A Short Piece
Live so that others always feel at home
Is it good to want people to miss us when we’re gone? Or is that selfish? In one way, it means we want to live a life that matters to people, but in another, it means we want people to suffer. What’s right?
If nobody cares when we die, this might suggest we didn’t live a good life. Worse yet, if people are secretly happy that we’re dead, we probably blew it. So, in the sense that we don’t want people to be apathetic or happy over our death, the phrase “I want to be missed” seems positive.
But, at the same time, that leaves people to be sad over our death, and sadness hurts. Therefore, if we want people to miss us when we’re gone, doesn’t that mean we want people to suffer? And isn’t it wrong to want people to suffer?
Beauty might help us find the balance.
When I think back on my life over all the beautiful experiences I’ve had, there’s a sense in which they are behind me and gone, and there’s another sense in which I still carry them with me — they’re not gone at all. I once helped run a community space for creatives called Eunoia, but now that I don’t, there’s a sense in which I miss it dearly. But then at the same time, I feel like I love and enjoy all of life better thanks to Eunoia, and so in a way, Eunoia isn’t gone at all, but “in” everything I see, think, and do. It’s as if Eunoia has become “eternal,” in all time at the same time. To allude to C.S. Lewis, I can no longer see the ray of light directly, but I can see colors better thanks to the illumination, and in that sense, everything is “wearing” Eunoia.
It’s almost as if I miss not Eunoia but direct and tangible manifestations of Eunoia, but at the same time, I’m not even sure that I “miss” Eunoia. Is that the right word? Sort of, but thinking about the Eunoia season doesn’t make me sad. Instead, I’m grateful.
When we’re having a wonderful time, we’re not thinking about all the sad things that happened in life. For me, it’s like Eunoia helps me always have a wonderful time, and so I’m never thinking about the sad fact that I’m no longer at Eunoia. Do I wish I could still attend Eunoia? Absolutely, but the gift Eunoia gave me to experience life fuller now overshadows that separation. Eunoia helped me realize a state of wonder and joy that I can always feel, and in always feeling that, there isn’t so much space for pain.
I think this should be our goal: to live in a way that we make the lives of people who know us more wonderful, and in feeling more wonder, there’s not so much space for the pain of our absence. We should live in a way that makes life more worth living, and in life gaining this increased wonder, our absence, even if hard, will not only be suffered.
For me, this is to want to live a life that is beautiful, to live a life that is like a work of art, though what this means exactly will have to be expanded on elsewhere. To borrow a point from Poindexter Trüffelschwein, our goal should be to live a life that helps others always feel at home