Francis A. Schaeffer in his book “How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture” ponders this question. Schaeffer is considered by many scholars to be one of the most prominent thinkers of the 20th century.
In his book, he contemplates the reasons for, as he sees it, the decline of western culture. Not all agree with his conclusions as to the reasons for western cultural decline and the avenue to resolve the dilemma, but he brings to light some interesting thoughts. The question in the title of the book is where my thoughts have been as of late.
COVID is not over — but in many ways, it is becoming less of a threat. As medical professionals and scientists are quick to point out, COVID-19 is here to stay, maybe. It may be like the flu — we have to be vaccinated every year. When I ask myself the question, “How are we to live now?” I think maybe the answer is much simpler than the question.
Let me ask you, how did you live before? Can you live the same as before? The answer to the first question is simple while the answer to the second question is a little more complex. But my first thoughts in answering the questions are, we are to live as we always have lived in whatever way we fancy, with adaptations (masks, hand sanitizer, etc.).
I think we can agree that we all have missed each other — yes indeed, we missed one another, a lot. We did things together without ever knowing each other. But knowing everyone we do things with is not the point of doing things.
The mere act of “doing” is the point.
We do baseball, football, concerts, shopping and a multitude of other things just for the sheer joy of doing them.
We are told we will soon be able to hug relatives, friends, that is if you are a hugger. I know you none-huggers hate it, but you will be OK! Or maybe dine at our favorite restaurant. For me, it’s hard to imagine doing that again! We can, and will, go back to living, not as we once did, but we can indulge in life nonetheless.
When we begin to answer the question of “How are we to live now?” we realize that life is a series of doing. It is in doing we experience joy, sometimes sorrow and even learn lessons. Some lessons are simple, and some profoundly life changing.
The thing about lessons is they often come to us during times of austerity.
My takeaway lessons are these (maybe yours are as well): How shall I live now? I’d like to have a new appreciation for life, and living, in all its many facets. I need to take the time to listen to life, not add to the noise of it. I need to quiet myself and listen to others (spouse, children, parents, my dogs, co-workers, nature). I want again to be sentient, just feel, feeling, once again. Maybe we all can begin to slow way, way, way down and really savor the simple, but deeply delightful experiences of life.
We all hear things in passing all the time, but we rarely take the time to quiet our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and just be still. Being still and just living, just loving, just being. Now that sounds grand.
Will you join me in celebration of all that life is?
How shall we now live? That’s up to you!
Richard Stride has been a practicing psychotherapist. He has worked in behavioral and forensic mental health for over 30 years as a counselor, clinical director and senior executive. He served eight years as a captain in the United States Army Reserve. He enjoys teaching, public speaking and prides himself on being a student of history. He is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.