The Secret of a Full Life

Puppy at Sled Dog Discovery & Musher's Camp on...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my weekly column for the newspaper, slightly edited for you:

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow.” – Anais Nin


            I came across this quote this morning in a blog post by David Kanigan. His blog is called Lead. Learn. Live. And the title of his post today is “The Secret of a Full Life”. As many of you who read this column know, I have embraced the blog world, which is a place of discovery and sharing. Blog, if you look it up in the dictionary is not defined very well—the definition of blog is blog. So I will define it for you:  a blog is a writer’s little piece of heaven. It is where we can express ourselves and feel that we are getting our “lonely in the wilderness” voices heard.


I am luckier than most in that I have an audience for my print column. Many people are not so fortunate but anyone with a computer, a little working knowledge of the Internet, and the will to write can have a blog. At this point mine is free—if I want to I can pay WordPress a fee and get more options, but I am satisfied with what it offers me now, so I see no point in paying a fee for something I can get for free.


I am not trying to get you to join the blog world—but if you want to, it is easy. The old adage: if I can do it, then you can do it was never more true when it comes to blogging. But if you do not want to write, you can still partake by reading the blogs of others. Now if you do get involved be forewarned, as everyone and their dog (seriously there is a TV program where a dog has a blog) seems to have a blog and you may have to be selective. I tend to look for inspiration, humour, and human connection, not angst(though a little angst can be interesting as long as that is not all the blogger talks about).


And that brings me back to David Kanigan. He is an inspiration and when he is not writing something inspirational or thought-provoking, he finds someone to quote who is. Today he provided the above quote from author Anais Nin who died in 1977. I want you to note that what she said in 1946 is amplified in 2013. It is as if she was looking into the future. Without further ado, here are the rest of her words on the subject of a full life:

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.”

            What she says also applies to the blog world. I now know people across Canada, in England, Australia, Taiwan, the United States, Alaska, France, Spain, Brazil, Scotland and many other exotic places. But there is a danger in getting too caught up in the world outside my own home. I am cognizant of this and I take what Nin says very seriously when she states “the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.”


Nin’s words make me realize that it is the life I have right here in front of me that is important. It is the people I share my house with, my friendships with, and the community I live in that are of immediate importance. I have made some significant friends in the blog world—and a few have become true friends, but it is not a world to escape to. It is a world that adds to my experience—but it does not take precedence over the people that are right here beside me. It is all a matter of that word I have learned to love and hate: balance.

Note to my blog readers: I was a bit off-balance when I first embraced the blog world. I have now come to a pretty comfortable balance–but I must say that I have found things in the blog world I have not found in my “real walking around world”. Has anyone else found this?

Published in: on August 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm  Comments (37)  
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Happy 4th of July to my American Friends and Neighbours

The friendship that Canada has with the United States is one that overcomes petty jealousies, comparisons, and squabbles. When someone says something is distinctly Canadian or very American they are reflecting the truth, but superficially.

Americans and Canadians are not the same. Yet in so many ways they are. I celebrate our friendship and the following quotes seem very àpropos to our relationship:

“Friendship is born of that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one!” ~ C. S. Lewis

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet.” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A.A. Milne

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” ~ William Shakespeare

I live about 30 miles from the Windsor-Detroit border; I went to university with many Americans and count some of them as my best friends; I wish all of you a Happy 4th and let us celebrate our similarities and bask in our differences—that is what makes us both interesting!

Peace Arch Park - 26

(Photo credit: David Chilstrom)

~ We Gather Together ~ and Stuff Ourselves ~

English: Bow Bridge over The Lake in Central P...

English: Bow Bridge on Thanksgiving Day 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~ we gather, we give thanks, and we eat ~

This is an edited version of my weekly newspaper column and though it is early it will serve to whet your appetite for the coming weekend if you are Canadian. I know that many of my readers are not Canadian but I think you may find a few things you can relate to:

“We gather together” are the introductory words of the first verse of a hymn sung traditionally at Thanksgiving. And it very aptly sums up one of the best attributes of Thanksgiving—it brings us together at a table heavily laden with harvest food.

A Canadian living in the United States wrote an article in the October edition of Chatelaine magazine comparing Canadian Thanksgiving with American Thanksgiving. Samantha See’s article, “Turkey Takedown” concluded that: “…we gather. And we dine. And we make a huge mess. But mostly we hang out and talk over each other and laugh and argue and fall asleep on the couch zoned out on tryptophan.”

The big difference between our Thanksgiving and our neighbour to the south, says See, is that we are the “first out of the gate” in that we celebrate in October and not November. Even though we cannot lay claim to the Pilgrims we “celebrate all the same, and Give Thanks and have Family Feasts, and all those good things.” That to me is Thanksgiving in a wonderful nutshell. On both sides of the border.

Sure the Americans throw in some parades and their Thanksgiving seems to be the harbinger of the holiday season, but if we look at in another way—our holiday season is even longer, because we start sooner. The point See makes is that “as long as you celebrate, haul that whole family together, and break bread in some way”, Thanksgiving has been appropriately commemorated.

She also makes the very salient point that Thanksgiving is the beginning of the “eating season”—a time of year when she bakes herself “into a woman-sized shortbread cocoon” and spends “two and a half months eating (her) way out.”

I think that the majority of us love Thanksgiving with all the fixings. I would love Thanksgiving even more if I were not the one in charge of fixing it, but over the years I have learned a number of ways to make that part of the equation easier. At the advice of a friend, I now buy a turkey that needs neither days of thawing nor the stuffing of its interior. No handling an unwieldy bird for me (but now I have to find something new to complain about).

Thanksgiving is important for so many reasons—the food, the giving of thanks, the camaraderie, but most important is the first three words of that hymn written originally in 1597: “WE GATHER TOGETHER”.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good appetite.

Thanksgiving Day Greetings

Thanksgiving Day Greetings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)