My husband and I attended a concert a few weeks ago at the Concertgebouw — one of the world’s greatest concert halls. We go often, as we are lucky that our house is a 5-minute walk to this historic monument. We have seen amazing classical performances, piano soloists, some jazz and pops, and visiting conductors from all over the world. This particular night, we chose a concert that, in our humble opinion, was incredibly boring! So my mind started drifting, as it often does to keep me from falling asleep! I thought about the things that brought me joy in my life… and I came up with 8 items. My rules were simple: looking back on my 61 years, what could I truly say brought me the most happiness, joy, and love — and also might have brought me great sorrow with their loss. At the break, I asked my husband if he could figure out what they were. He guessed most of them but then added two I had forgotten about! Ten is a nice round number, so I came up with My Own Personal Top Ten List. The first two are in order of importance, but the rest are not necessarily in any particular order.
- My husband, best friend and life partner
- Our good health
- Our life in Amsterdam
- My three best friends
- My sister
- Our hanai daughter Amelia
- Our home
- My kitty Kolo, who is no longer with us
- The Beatles
After I did this I realized that, indeed, this was a very important exercise! It helps me set my priorities and brings clarity to how I have made and should make my daily decisions. I noticed that there was only one family member on the list; that made me a bit sad, but this is the road I have traveled. Probably most of you will have your children, or grandchildren, or parents on the list. My list includes my dearest friends and our hanai or “adopted” daughter (we didn’t raise her, but we have known her since she was born and she is now 31). These extraordinary women, along with my sister and my sweet Kolo, not only have brought me great joy, but also have loved me unconditionally. Travel, which is a huge desire for many people, was not on there; I am happy to travel for short periods of time, and I loved our one year of travel, but the strong desire to have adventures in foreign countries is not there for me. I didn’t list any hobbies although there are many things I enjoy — reading, music, entertaining, biking, movies, gardening, decorating — just not enough to say they have brought me my greatest joy. My career, which played a huge part in my life and was very gratifying, didn’t make the cut, although I will always have wonderful memories of the work I have done and the people I met along the way.
My list is simple and that made me happy. It allows me to put my energy into the things that matter the most to me. My husband is the most important person in the world to me, and the honest truth is that I never thought I would say that. All marriages go through ups and downs and ours has been no exception. We always loved each other and rarely (if ever) fought, but as faithful readers of this blog know, there were many things we did not talk about for years — the biggest one, of course, was how my weight bothered him. But the elephant in the room is no longer there and now there is nothing we cannot talk about. And we do talk a lot; after 28 years together, we have interesting, fascinating conversations every day.