Like Smoke Through a Keyhole

Last night I watched the movie “The Bucket List” again with someone who had never seen it. On the big screen in 2007 the film touched me, but this time it meant even more. First time around I laughed until my ribs hurt and found tears in my eyes several times. Last night this was true to an even greater degree. Five years of life have passed in a hurry since I saw “The Bucket List’ originally. Thoughts of retiring are kicking around strong in my head. My mortality is both more real and better accepted than ever before.

There are a several pieces of dialogue from the movie I find especially meaningful. One is when Morgan Freeman’s character says “Forty-five years goes by pretty fast”. The response from Jack Nicholson is “Like smoke through a keyhole”. Never have heard a more accurate description of how life speeds by so quickly.

Watching Freeman and Nicholson acting last evening confirmed even more pointedly to me I need to let go of work while there is enough of me left to enjoy what’s on my bucket list. My thinking is moving to align more with Masanobu Fukuoka who was a Japanese farmer and philosopher. He wrote several books including “The One-Straw Revolution” where the following comes from.

I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time.

I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.

No longer do I have this burning need to succeed and make money. After a point success frequently leaves one empty and is often its own undoing. Succeeding leaves most with a yearning for more. Likewise with money. After one’s needs are met and a comfortable life is possible, money can be a person’s downfall. Or more accurately, the relentless pursuit of more does the harm and eventually brings disillusionment. Yearning brings only more yearning.

When I combine what life has taught me, the encouragement of friends and those who care about me along with inspiration that comes from a power beyond me the need to change direction is obvious. The future’s not clearly in focus beyond a few steps, but the joy and excitement in my heart and soul tells me I am moving in the correct direction. I am grateful for such clarity.

God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves
the gift of living well.

About James Browning

A seeker working to grow each day and be a better version of my self. Through sharing I commit myself deeper to my ideals and beliefs.
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