I have always greatly admired people who have an unquenchable zest for life. They are the much-needed spice in what can be the bland humdrum of the day in and day out. Who pops into your mind when you think of someone who embodies this trait (apart from Rev. Kelly)? Mine would be a female mechanic named Ruth that I met in my freshman year of college.
Ruth was 45 years old, half-blind, and so fun to be around that we became inseparable friends despite our age difference. Ruth was assigned to me when I signed up to help tutor those who were struggling in college. Because of poor eyesight Ruth couldn’t read the printed word – although she could see large objects enough to get around. She was already a good mechanic but when an aunt died and bequeathed her some money she was determined to get a college degree.
Reading textbooks on fixing cars was not my idea of fun but hanging out with Ruth certainly was. Ruth never seemed to feel sorry for herself but instead was quick to voice her gratitude for the sight she did have. There was no person, place or topic that didn’t arouse her interest. My weekly obligation soon turned into daily visits. We spent a lot of time in her run-down trailer and on the beach (this was in Hawaii) talking about everything under the sun. Ruth believed in reincarnation and often said that she forgot I was only 18 because I had an “old soul.” In contrast Ruth had so much passion and enthusiasm for life that she is one of those people who never seem to age- or even tire, for that matter.
In times like these with political and economic unrest it is easy to wake up and wonder what happened to your zest for life. My first go-to is to try and be more grateful because (as Brene Brown talked about in our parenting class, joy and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. You can’t feel true gratitude without feeling joy and vice versa. Because of this Brene committed as a researcher to never speak of one without the other.) If I can’t muster up sufficient gratitude to change my gloomy outlook I gravitate towards small children or my dog. I find that both have a quality of zest about them that is contagious and I can’t be around them long before their natural joy rubs off on me.
I like this idea from Richard Scott too. He instructs, “Attempt to be creative for the joy it brings. Select something like music, dance, sculpture or poetry. Being creative will help you enjoy life. It engenders a spirit of gratitude. It develops latent talent, sharpens your capacity to reason, to act, and to find purpose in life. It dispels loneliness and heartache. It gives a renewal, a spark of enthusiasm and zest for life.
As summer approaches may we all strive to develop a better zest for life while life is ours to live.
Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation