The following are words of wisdom from the writer Nora Ephron, quoted in this lovely article in The Atlantic on The Three Rules for Middle Age Happiness.
Its intention touched me mostly because of the first line: gather friends and feed them. When I think of the moments of my life when I have been happy — down-to-the-bones joyful — there are common ingredients:
- The outdoors — a garden, the wilderness, a beach
- A group — a gathering among friends who can have easy conversations and can laugh easily, telling stories, free of digital devices and cultural divisiveness
- Food and wine — not just me cooking, but a communal sharing of the labors of putting together a feast
I have been fortunate to have had many of those experiences in my life. From an oyster orgy in Marshall, CA, to late night riotous laughter on the veranda overlooking the sea under a full moon in São Jorge, to laying down in the middle of the road watching shooting stars in Quincy, CA, to a blurry neighborhood mobilization of an impromptu Sunday dinner, to a candlelit, off-the-grid feast in Big Sur, CA. These are forever in my heart and mind as the best moments of my life.
I am luckier still that I was able to savor those gatherings, to remind myself in the moment to be mindful of them. I am grateful to those who either created or enabled those moments.
cut out the things that no longer serve you
It’s been a slog of calamity over the last few years. Each disaster has piled onto to an increasingly heavy burden.
It has also been a season of winnowing, reducing, and editing. Many of us have gone through at least one major reckoning over the last 18 months. Jobs ended, as did relationships and attachments to certain ideas , beliefs and (dare I say it?) fantasies.
We are now starting to carefully, haltingly piece back our lives. I hope we are choosing carefully.
I’ve read about The Great Global Reset. My focus is at the individual level, on how this re-emergence is accompanied by A Great Unburdening. How can we lighten the load we carry? Or at least set it down for the sake of reclaiming those moments?
laugh in the face of calamity
I want laughter to come come more easily. I want to soften the hard edges. I want to ease into a gentle unfurling — dialogue not debate, laughter not lamentation, conversation not complaint, stories not statements.
Ms. Ephron was battling leukemia when she said this quote. So she knew about laughter in the face of calamity. Between the time of her diagnosis and her death, Ephron directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Julie & Julia. It was a movie about Julia Child, who epitomized the joy of gathering friends and feeding them.