Knowing What’s Important

<Dec. 13/09>

It’s so important to know what’s really important in life…don’t you think?

I just had a “Janet has another adventure” sort of afternoon – and trust me, Reader, there is a LOT of background detail to my current life that is … well…actually kind of interesting, really, & which I’m not going into because a) I don’t feel like talking about it right now & b) I really want to cut to the chase here.

Ever-so-brief background: I was driving out to a friend’s place, from downtown Toronto. No snow tires – for somewhat complex but quite explicable & reasonable reasons. No winter coat either (see above).

Listened on the drive to our national treasure, CBC Radio (Omigoodness!! Listen to the podcast, if there is one, of the ‘Tapestry’ show from Sunday, December 13th – Mary Hines interviewing Victor Wooten. It’s an absolute treasure of an interview. I’d never heard of this man before, but wow!! I’ll be buying his book & telling folks about him; awesome musician & person).

And, once I got close to my friend’s wonderful home, got my little car quite utterly stuck in snow out on the road.

Hoofed it down the driveway (a 5-minute walk in un-snowy conditions) in my not-so-very-adequate boots (my good ones were in the closet, inside said house) – and what was the first thing I did? After turning the heat up?

Called someone for help.

So. This short essay, about “the important things” – is short mostly because today’s lesson for me is that the important things in life can be distilled down to a very short list indeed.

# 1: People/friends/community. I’m where I am in life (my in-so-many-ways very, very enviable life) because of people. Friends, family, community. When the chips are down (as the saying goes), who will be there for you? Your bank account? The “global economy”? I don’t think so. Your friends/family/community will. I hope…

** I could stop right here, btw. With enough of # 1, things fall into place, pretty much. The next 4 are not such bad ones to add to the list, though…

# 2: Common sense (not as common, I think, as the term implies). My brain kicked in fast & told me to order the priorities quickly. Several things fell immediately off the list. What was on it, first and foremost, was “Turn on the heat & call for help!”

# 3: Self-confidence. Along with knowing I need my fellow human beings like crazy, I have the self-confidence to say to myself “You can figure this out. Get help!!”

# 4: Resourcefulness. I’d packed my car in such a way that I didn’t have to schlep 452 items down that unplowed, snowy driveway (this is not always the case for me, I might add…), had had the good sense to leave the snow shovels right handy on the porch, and also had a flashlight right handy near the front door (dark was coming on fast).

# 5: Music!! Now that the little adventure is more or less resolved (with wheelbarrows’ full of gratitude to my saviour, George!!), the house is heating up, & some supper is now contemplatable. I’m very pleased now that there is good music here to listen to. (Pat Conroy said, “Without music, life is a journey through a desert,” & I couldn’t agree more…)

So. I suggest we all do our very best to teach our children what’s REALLY important in life - & you may have noticed that having a whole bunch of money &/or material possessions didn’t make the cut.

People, people, people. Community, community, community.

There you have it.


p.s. Long underwear, safety pins, matches, candles, post-it notes & one of those little travel sewing kits (along with a notebook & pen & a book!!) haven’t hurt, either!!

p.p.s. This blog post, in 10 words or less? Carry only the essentials. The rest is too heavy. (The post entitled ‘Light things, Heavy things’ may be of interest if you’ve enjoyed this one.)