Life’s Freebies

I’m sure you’ve heard the following: “The best things in life are free! Family, friends, the beauty of a sunrise” and “Well, ya get what ya pay for…”. How can we square those two nuggets of wisdom?

The difference is our investment. You do get what you pay for in all instances. If you are given love but do not invest in growing it, then it will wilt and languish and eventually melt away like a spring snow. If you do not spend the time and energy building your family and the underpinnings of strong relationships then your family will stress and fracture, perhaps irreparably. The same goes for friendships and community. If you do not care for your health getting up to see a sunrise will not be a positive experience, it won’t be one of the “best” things in your life. In fact, poor health basically guarantees that we will not be able to be fully present in the moments when those “freebies” in life come along. Health is a multifaceted investment that pays dividends in places beyond living longer. Yes, the best things in life are free, meaning they come to us from the goodness of the Creator of the universe, however, just as we see with the “free” wisdom in Proverbs, all of these freebies need our investment to make the most of their potential.

That said, just as not all people have your best interests in mind, not all freebies are worth our time and energy, so carefully weigh their value and potential value before investing further as they could turn out to be a net loss to your health, happiness and productivity, and then you did certainly get what you paid for.

The Mirror as a Tool

Sometimes the hardest person to face is the one in the mirror, but when we see ourselves clearly we can not only better accept reality, but we can use the insight into our blemishes as well as our strengths in order to find our way forward. As those qualities change with time, both positive and negative, it is important to take some time to reflect on where we are at as humans. I’m not as good at somethings as I was twenty years ago, but I also know I’ve grown and am way better at other things over that same time frame. We change, we grow, we shrink, we contort to new realities and our perception of ourselves needs to be current in order to best meet the shifting challenges in life . Don’t be afraid of mirrors. When you get stuck or frustrated, start with a frank look in the mirror. Reality wins every time in spite of our perceived identity.

Cycles through Proverbs

The Book of Proverbs, it’s there, it’s “free” wisdom and it doesn’t have to be “religious”. I understand that some are turned off to organized religion. I know I have been on that track and always resort to the “things I know I know to be true” as a source of comfort in turbulent times. Proverbs is rife with those comforting truths. And I summate them with: I know God is good; I know He has a purpose and a plan; I know He is infinitely kind and merciful. I also know there is much I do not know, yet I will always keep seeking to know.

The guidance in Proverbs helps in that journey through the fog of life. We humans make much of the hashing up and defense of the details of our own limited understanding and much of organized religion is organized belief. This is a source of chaos in the modern religious experience. The book of Proverbs reinforces the wisdom that He has infused throughout the creation. It points to the nuances of daily life. It points to peace amidst chaos.  It does not have any agenda nor does it reek of an organizational manipulation or agenda. It is the companion soundtrack to our observations as we experience life.

The words in Proverbs grow in depth as we experience life. And they are maximized if we invest the time in thinking not only about the words but the extensions of the words and how the wisdom can be applied in a wide variety of situations. I recommend reading a chapter of Proverbs a day and making note as the months fly by of the outcome of reading the same words in narrow cycle. I find it interesting how some will hold different meaning depending on what I am encountering in my daily life. I find it equally interesting which ones pop up as “I’ve never noticed that one before!”, though I’ve literally read them hundreds of times. I find the cycling through the book on a monthly basis to be a valuable counter to the disquieting nature of daily life.