I post here something I recently wrote in my journal: I basically think that Aristotle had it right on how to live a good life: find a proper mean between extremes, be balanced, and live virtuously. So here is what I would like my life to look like:
I start with work, the labor I must do to live. I should like to be good at my job. I don’t have any particular desire to be at the very top of my profession. Academic stardom looks like rather too brass a ring to devote all of one’s energy on the greasy pole to achieve. I would like, however, to teach my students well. I would like to write things that help people to think better, to say a few somethings that will still be worth saying and reading a generation or two hence. To the extent that I have other intellectual ambitions, I would like to be remembered as one of the people who helped to push along Mormonism intellectually, a person who treated the Restoration with charity and respect and learned something from it, perhaps something that had not been learned before.
I would like to be a good husband and father. I want to teach my children how to be good and productive people. I want them to be kind, virtuous, intelligent, and hard working. I want to give them the foundations of a faith that will carry them through an eventful life. I want to play with them and enjoy the company of my little ones before time, in its brutality, carries them inevitably away from me. I want to make my wife happy, to serve her. I want more of those moments when she lights up at the sight of me without being aware that she glows. I want to be the means for her to be happy, productive, and content. I want to share TV shows and companionable reading together. I want to tend a garden with her and enjoy the fruits of our harvest. I want to hold her when she cries and be the person who makes her smile in the midst of her anger or frustration.
I have respect for the forms. I don’t need or even want my life to be some work that I author ex nihilio. Rather, I want to be rooted in a tradition and a people. Hence, I want to live a virtuous Mormon life not simply as an act of fidelity to God but as an act of filial piety to the people that have reared me. I’ve no particular ecclesiastical ambitions and I don’t enjoy being in charge or going to meetings. I would, however, like to serve diligently where I am called, and find ways of bringing some light or aid into the lives of those with whom I worship. I should like to keep my covenants, and follow God in the way that my fathers followed him. I always want “Come, Come, Ye Saints” and “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” to reach down to some deep core of my identity, a core to with which I am reconciled and at peace.
I should like to feel the presence of God. I would like to pray so that at times I approach the throne of grace. I always want to experience the marvelous and excessive beauty of the world as a gift from a loving Father in Heaven. I want to be aware of the place in which I live, to know how the water drains off the land, to feel the rhythms of trees and birds and seasons, to feel the immediacy of God’s creation. I want to read scripture and poetry and let the language permeate my soul to some deep place before logic and analysis. Maybe, once before I die, I want write a poem that says a true thing, beautifully. I want to run and run and run, to float on my legs over the land and feel my body tired but strong and healthy.
When I die, I do not want to be lonely. I want to be surrounded by people I love – whether they are on this side of the veil or the other. I want to leave behind words and memories that will live on in this world when I am gone. I want to be happy to have run the course that I ran, to feel that I pushed through to the end of the race to which I was set. I want to be laid in a garden spot, some piece of land to which I am not a stranger. I want to be clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood in the casket, and I want my son or my grandson to bless the land by the authority of that priesthood to be protected to the hour of the first resurrection.
That, it seems to me, would be a good life.