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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Finding just what is important in life

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The calendar says September, the weather says September and my darned allergies say September. Having said that, I reluctantly love this time of year. Granted, I absolutely hate what will undoubtedly be in our future come the winter months. But September - if all goes well - is God's way of saying farewell to summer and gives us a chance to pause before the cold weather preparation begins.

This is also a reflective month for me. Here's why. Even though my kids are beyond school age, school nonetheless is back in session and most families begin to settle into a routine that is sorely lacking most of the summer. Kids may not like this routine but, rest assured, parents do.

I think routine is important. Extremely important in fact. Granted, there is a fine line between routines and ruts. I've been told that more than once by more than one person. Yet, my nature is one of routines. Routines mean few surprises and I hate surprises. Routines allow or force us to accomplish more. And there is something calming to me about knowing what is on the horizon, what needs to be done and who is going to do it.

I was thinking this week about the Billy Crystal line in the movie "City Slickers." In that dialogue, Crystal discovers there is one thing important in each of our lives. Just one thing. But the true point is that each of us gets to decide what that one thing is. Is it family or friends or health or wealth? Is it faith? Is it fulfillment or contentment? Or some combination of all?

Here's what I suspect. That "one thing" changes over time. At some points in our lives that important element may be wealth but later it may well be health. That important issue may start with fulfillment but end with contentment.

There are thousands of professionals in the field of knowledge who wrestle with this question each and every day. If someone knew what could make us all happy, surely he would have devised it long before now. But alas, that magic pill does not exist and it probably never will.

I posed this question to a friend not too long ago and was told that faith was the most important need in my friend's life. And it's hard to argue with faith either in a practical or spiritual sense. But faith without family and friends somehow seems empty. And health and contentment without faith seems equally as empty.

This column is by no means meant as a sermon nor an arm-chair philosophy on life. Maybe it's the September allergies clouding both my mind and nasal passages. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's too many funerals in too few days.

Believe me, it would be easier to write about politics or the needs of our community. It would be easier to solve the Mideast crisis. It would even be easier to teach George Bush proper English.

But for now, on this gorgeous beautiful pre-fall day, I sit and ponder questions that defy answers. And whether you admit it or not, you ponder the very same questions.

All we lack are the answers. Now doesn't that sound familiar?

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen