Essential for…?

A book caught my eye the other day at the library, intriguing my philosophical itching—The only 127 things You NEED…it’s about Essential Things. What you really need…the book carted into my looted pile. First, as interesting as a concept this is, 127 seems a little high…a lengthy number, doesn’t it? The items range from tangible possessions—it is essential that you own three quality knives—to habits or behaviors—30 minutes of cardio activity 5 times a week. I confess, I’ve only browsed the book, but within 5 seconds it was clear that I am depraved right now, as many essentials appear to be absent from my current “toolbox” (shh! Don’t tell anyone that I lack a quality handbag!) Secondly, I began to wonder (okay, a bit defensively) essential for WHAT? Exactly what does essential connotate? Required for survival? No, of course, that list would be significantly truncated—air, water, food, shelter. With no mentioning of a yearly getaway on the survival list, a book like this would not be a very intriguing read, although I am sure that some radio personality would digst volumes on such a topic. Essential then, signifies something beyond mere sustenance. Pushing past getting by.
Essential for health?
Essential for well being?
Essential for happiness?
What exactly is it that we need? In order to create a list of the necessary items required to attain it, we need to define our ultimate concerns
For me, that would be fulfillment, as sense of contentedness with life right here and now. So here is my little essentials…I thought I’d make a list before some one else informed me of what I needed.
1) Connection
2) Movement
3) Nourishment
4) Stimulation
5) Service/Care
Easily sidetracked in the land of universality (Kant would nod his head in fatherly approval) I often lose engagement with the here and now by applying general labels to things, and thus miss the grace of the present NOW. Do you do that? In effort to simplify, I now color the bones of these things, dress them up in today’s high fashion, frilling them with details so they will be easily recognized as they walk onto the scene.
1) Connection—a phone call, a visit. It is essential for me to exchange a few words with someone each day who knows me. Living alone it is easy to miss interactions with others that ground you. Sharing what I about a moment of victory (I made homemade hummus!) or stupidity (e.g. leaving the tag on the purse Susanne got me for Christmas) gives me a sense of “here I am”.
2) Movement—it is essential for me to exert some physical energy every day. It is my zen, my yoga, and my reprieve from my overactive mind. Usually it is 3-4 mile jog.
3) Nourishment—peanut butter everyday. Essential
4) Stimulation—I read something enlightening everyday, it 15 minute chunks. Possibility unfolds before me, desperate laughter, abiding resignation, if I remain open to learn, the act of always rediscovering and redefining me reveals my essential purpose in life
5) Service/Care—Essential is a daily act of service. Apologizing for talking on the phone in line, bringing a friend prescriptions, sending a card. It is pretty easy to make someone’s day brighter, and believe me, in a land depraved of natural sunlight for the majority of the year, our cells soak in up in starved edification. Research shows that making other people happy makes up happy. Myself included…
So that’s my list. No set of knives here (I do have three, though, I have to admit!).
What’s on your list?

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