I don't want a whole lot out of life. Or I don't think I do. A steady job, a place to live, the ability to live relatively comfortably, and people to care about. But aside from what I want to live, there is also the question of how. The question of not just living the life I want, but living it right.
So, what does "right living" mean to me? My mind goes ( and has always gone) automatically to dying. When I die, what sort of a person do I want to be remembered as? What achievement do I want to grasp at as I lie gasping for my last breath? (sorry kids, that was morbid).
The answer I've come up with somewhere in the past ten years was a very simple one: I want to do right by people. I want to know I've done right by people, and I want people to say over my grave, at the very least "well, she always tried her best to do right by me."
Doing right by a person means, first and foremost, always remembering their humanity is as valuable and palpable as your own. Never treat anyone as lesser, no matter what you may think of them and they may think of you. Secondly, it means taking the time to give a fuck. To listen, to talk, even just to open a door or pick up a dropped mitten and return it to a stranger. Finally, it means trying to do things for others that will brighten their day. Reaching out in small ways that can make big differences in other people's lives. I'm not so good at this last one, I don't think. Its something I would like to work on. Recently I have been the recipient of just such a gesture, finding a surprise card and bit of cross-stitch in my mailbox at school, which put a smile on my face. I feel like if I could remember to do more of these neat little things that let people know that I'm out there, that I care, and that I value them, I'd be doing a much better job of doing right by them.
And lets face it, I've had my times when I've failed miserably at doing right by people. I have been selfish. I have lied. At some point or another I have done all of those things that qualify as doing wrong by a person (short of stealing and murdering, I suppose). But I guess those sorts of mistakes are just part of being human. Life is, if nothing else, a learning process, and I hope that by the end of mine, I will have truly learned to do my absolute best by everyone I come into contact with.
An unreasonable goal? Maybe.
But something worth striving for?