Author Joseph Campbell astutely observed “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”

As we celebrated my mom’s 75th birthday recently, it occurred to me that she has been on a lifelong quest for the experience of being alive:

  • When I was growing up, my mom constantly adopted new hobbies: sewing, painting, crocheting, basket weaving, antique collecting
  • When she wanted to earn more money, she became a real estate agent and then the managing broker
    (Her agents still reflect, “No matter how busy your mom was, she always made time for me.”)
  • When my sister needed a kidney transplant, my mom donated hers without hesitation
  • And she won’t walk by someone homeless without offering food or money
  • After being widowed, she traveled to China alone
  • Upon her return, she tried Match.com
  • And then at 70 she walked down the aisle again (including a bachelorette party!)
  • She once pulled an all-nighter with me for the best seats at the Macy’s Day Parade
  • After the election, she attended the March on Washington
  • Last year she biked Iowa with me
  • Last month she started doing yoga
  • Last week she tried OrangeTheory Fitness
  • And for 40 years she has done it all in long red nails

I can synthesize her strategies to “experience being alive” as follows:

  1. Keep perspective (“What’s the worst that can happen?”)
  2. Say “yes!” first; figure out the how later
  3. Always have a ticket to the next adventure
  4. Make others feel important
  5. Go out of your way to help people

While my mom doesn’t talk about the meaning of life, she never passes up an opportunity to experience something new or to make a difference for someone else.

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