Rebirth of Reason

The Good Life

by Ashley Frazier

Last weekend I planned to spend my last day in Los Angeles visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum. Saturday I woke up with a throbbing head after the excesses of Friday night. Deciding that art could wait, I rolled over and slept for another hour. When I got up, the concierge warned me I would be better off taking public transportation to the museum as cars required pre-arranged reservations. Knowing that L.A. has famously bad public transportation, I started to think that maybe I would just take a couple of aspirin and spend another day next to the pool. I was halfway into my swimsuit when I stopped to consider how much I'd been looking forward to visiting the Getty Center and how easily I had allowed myself to be dissuaded from an opportunity to go there.

I made a phone call and got together all the necessary details for the bus. Two blocks to the bus stop, two stops to the museum, and even free admission. Much less hassle than I'd anticipated. Two hours later I was lying on a cool slab of marble, listening to the slap of water pouring out onto concrete as I rested in the sun outside an amazing Pieter Saenredam exhibition.

I realised that my life would be immeasurably better if I made the effort every time. When a choice will make my life more beautiful, it's not the time to go with the flow. I realised that I spend a lot of time sitting and waiting for inspiration to reach out and slap me in the face. Feeling, at the end of a day, that I am too exhausted to have a meal out with friends. Too weary to stay up and see a concert. Thinking that I need the sleep. Nonsense! My spirit needs the wake up!

It is too easy to allow the self to slip into a sort of auto-pilot, a familiar routine. Rituals are comforting, especially when the rest of life can be chaotic. Going straight home from work. Having dinner at your kitchen table. Cooking in your own kitchen. And if you don't have a consistent schedule, maybe your routine is just doing whatever is easiest. This leads to weeks where you don't remember anything that has happened at the end.

Do you ever hear about something you'd like to do - a lecture, a film, a speaker - and think "Oh, that sounds good!" and then you forget about it? Or perhaps you remember it, but you don't make firm plans to attend; and then on the night that it is scheduled you arrive home from work thirty minutes before it begins, hungry and tired, and decide to just crash on the sofa. Do friends call and the message gets lost in the pile of papers on the kitchen table? Have you ever said "They'll call back if it's important?" Have dinner plans been cancelled because your kids were sick and you never re-booked? These sorts of things seem small at first, but they are insidious, they can become a way of life.

Make a commitment to yourself when you want to do a thing, and don't break it. With each successful effort your life builds momentum. Once a life has started into motion you find that it wants to stay in motion. As you begin to interact with others you admire it becomes difficult to be lazy. Others ask hard questions and you are motivated to learn more so that you can answer them. Friends open your world to new experiences. The next thing you know you are reading Robert Heinlein and listening to Mario Lanza. And, well, there's no turning back after that has happened. So make that heroic effort. There's plenty of time for sleeping when you're dead.

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