Lately, I’ve had this weird post-cancer clarity about what makes a good life. This is partly inspired by Atul Gawande’s question for people who are close to the end of their lives: What does a good day look like?
You do not have to wait until you are at the end of your life to consider what makes a good day. In fact, perhaps we should not wait until the end of our lives to consider this question, for we all are on a finite allotment of days.
One of my startling thoughts when I was first diagnosed with cancer was this: But I thought I had more time. None of us have as much time as we think. It is therefore time well spent to ponder what makes up a good day for you. For me, I’ve interpreted this as the simple things that give me joy. (What a good day looks like is of course different for everybody).
What makes up a good day for me? Here is my Good Day List:
- Sitting on the terrace at sunrise, drinking a strong cup of coffee with my love.
- Watching and listening to the hummingbirds at our feeder.
- Going for a walk, preferably outside.
- Connecting with my adult kids and/or a close friend.
- Listening to a podcast.
- Shopping at places like cheese mongers, bakeries, butchers and fish markets.
- Eating good food.
- Doing a bit of writing.
- Taking a hot bath while reading a trashy gossip magazine.
- Watching cooking shows in the evening with my son.
What I like about my Good Day List is that even if I was sick, I could do a version of most of these things. If I was unable to walk, I could still sit on my terrace. If I couldn’t sit on my terrace, maybe I could still hear the birds. If I couldn’t eat, perhaps I could still watch cooking shows with my son. If I couldn’t write, maybe I could listen to a podcast. It gives me a wee bit of peace to think if I get sick again, I can still do some of my good things.
It is a collection of these good things that make up a good day that constitutes a good life. What does a good day look like to you?