The year 2011 has been unusual. My family and I have experienced some unfortunate events. I was in a car accident and almost caused another on a highway, one of our children was the victim of a crime and my sister become deathly ill suddenly. Along way I may have learned a valuable life lesson.
During my sister’s illness the doctor came into the waiting room and informed the family that dialysis treatment would be necessary. This was the peak of despair. The doctor returned shortly later to inform us of a new complication. It turned out to be a blessing because it was easy to treat and also meant dialysis was unnecessary. We were overjoyed and with each phone call I made to spread the news I felt even better.
There were several occasions this year where my level of happiness appeared inconsistent with the conditions of my family and I. Having positive feelings amidst the negative events often made me feel guilty. I first suspected that my mind was fabricating this happiness as a coping mechanism. I eventually came to believe simply that events are not the dominant force in my happiness.
If negative events can coexist with positive feelings then it stands to reason that events do not hold the most influence over quality of life. I would have assessed my quality of life at the being of this year as pretty good. Oversimplification of this assessment would be, there were few bad events in the past, there were few worries in the present and there appeared to be positive events coming in the near future. Contrast that with recent times, more bad events in the past, many more worries in the present and there appears to be negative events coming in the near future. So why do I feel that my quality of life (and some of my family’s too) has improved?
Relationships. The dominant force in my happiness is relationships. Throughout the negative events, my family and I were building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Those relationship changes were very consistent with my level of happiness. My life lesson learned was that relationships are not just important, they are the most important.
All my choices, good and bad, whatever their apparent motivations, selfless and selfish, boil down to the desire to make relationships with others, known and unknown, better. Even my health and desire to live a long life are contingent on being able to share it with others. Would you accept immortality requiring total isolation from all other forms of life? If I were deserted alone on an island then I might resort to fabricating an imaginary relationship with a volley ball. It is relationships that bring value to my life and at the moment I just cannot see it any other way.