Warmest regards: Interesting questions to ponder
By Pattie Mihalik
During these shelter at home pandemic days I’ve been spending even more time than usual reading.
Although our libraries weren’t open, we could request specific books for curbside pickup. Hurrah for all libraries that offer this service.
So I would know what to request, I Googled best beach reads for suggestions. Many of the suggestions were oldies but goodies.
I’m in the midst of reading Frannie Flagg’s uplifting 2006 book, “Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven.”
At first I thought it was a bit simplistic with little or no action. A reader also has to suspend reality because a woman named Elner dies then goes to heaven for thought-provoking conversations with God.
God says he appreciates how much Elner loved life, including every person she encountered and every creature big and small. He knew that she spent much time encouraging everyone.
Because she did, she helped bring out the best in people, including the hard-to-love youngster who threw stones at her cat.
When Elner convinced the troubled youngster she believed in him, he eventually learned to believe in himself.
When she went to heaven, God had a question for Elner: What did she like best about her time on earth?
That made me pause to ponder how I would answer that question since I, too, love life so much.
What would I say I loved best about it?
Perhaps it would be that I most appreciate the love I’ve reaped from so many good people in my life, starting with my parents and family and extending through the years with all the wonderful people who came into my life.
Or, perhaps my answer would be that I best loved having the gift of every single day I was given. Every single day of life is different and each one is special in its own way.
When I go outside each morning for my early morning walk, it’s like opening another gift - the gift of life that I never take for granted. From the time I draw my first breath each morning, I’m tuning into every physical aspect of that new day.
Did you ever notice how each day has its own feel and smell? The more I tune into the details of each day, the more I am in awe of the creator of it all.
Life is so rewarding in so many ways that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing that’s best about being on earth. I’m sure the author meant for her readers to ponder their own answers.
When God asked Elner what she loved best about life, she said it was nature - birds, all kinds of fowl and insects, dragonflies, lightning bugs, sunsets, stars, the moon and the change of seasons. She also said she loved simple things like homemade peach ice cream, pies and cookies.
She said she loved her neighbors and the goodness she found in each person.
She told God she enjoyed being a little girl then growing up to have her own home, and the joys of marriage to a man she loved.
In other words, there was no way she could narrow down her answer to what she loved best about being on earth.
God responded by saying he most likes when someone appreciates all the gifts life offers.
It’s impossible to read Fannie Flagg’s novel without thinking about the specialness of everyday life. I know I’ve been thinking about how I would answer the questions God posed to Elinor.
One question he asked her was what was her philosophy in life. That one’s a bit easier for me to answer.
I would say my philosophy of life is to live each day of life to the fullest, to squeeze every ounce of joy from it.
Most of all, for me, that philosophy means never to waste one day of life. It’s all too easy to do.
If I spend the day in anger or despair, I’ve wasted a precious day of life. Every now and then, I forget my vow never to waste a day. If David says something hurtful, sometimes instead of talking it over rationally my mind is filled with anger and resentment, not with the precious gifts of the day.
It doesn’t happen often, but even once is wasting a gift if it affects my appreciation of the day.
Because of the social isolation caused by the pandemic, if I don’t fight against it I’ll be caught up in despair instead of looking for the joys of the day.
Regardless of what else is going on, there will be small pleasures and personal joys. The song of a little bird outside my door can remind me of that.
When I was talking to my friend Jan today, I told her I’ve been thinking once again about how instrumental she was in helping me to find the perfect little house in Florida that wouldn’t strain a retirement budget.
She said she didn’t remember she did that and appreciated that I am crediting her with helping me make the right decisions.
The joy of a true friendship is just one of many things for which I am grateful.
When I die and hopefully go to heaven, I hope I’m like the fictional Elner telling God all I loved about this glorious life.
Meanwhile, I tell him every day.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at firstname.lastname@example.org.