Metatalktail Hour: The Good Life June 3, 2017 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week's metatalktails topic is deeply philosophical: What, to you, is the good life? Of course if you're not feeling philosophical feel free to give us the latest gossip, life updates, amusing people watching, great books, etc., from your recent days; they're conversation starters, not limiters!

The one exclusion is politics, this is a no-politics zone! And if you have ideas for future topics, feel free to send them to me.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 4:38 PM (83 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Coffee, video-games, SF/F books, beer, patio, family, & friends.
posted by Fizz at 4:40 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, and Tacos.
posted by Fizz at 4:40 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I go back and forth on my ideal life. I'd love to live in a mountain cabin, surrounded by nature, able to see all the stars... but on the other hand, I don't think I could bear that much solitude.
posted by AFABulous at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of expression, good company, and meaningful work.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:01 PM on June 3, 2017 [12 favorites]

I feel like I've said this in AskMe a bunch, but once more for kicks:

The greatest success is to live in your own way.

So whatever that good life is for you, if you've got that going on then I salute your for your success. Well done!
posted by carsonb at 5:03 PM on June 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

The good life = It's cold and/or raining out, I'm at home alone in my PJs, there's some ridiculous property reality show on TV OR I'm about to get stuck into a cheesy mystery novel set in Victorian times. I have a fully stocked fridge and ice cream in the freezer and no work the next day.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:03 PM on June 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

And for me it's bike rides to mountaintops, kitten snuggles, books for ages, and taco trucks within walking distance from home. Great success!
posted by carsonb at 5:04 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hmm, I've been off running for nearly two weeks now to due hurting my foot, and my conclusion is that the good life - for me - definitely includes some running as I've noticed that I'm growing antsy and more irritable!

More broadly, spending time with my kids. They drive me crazy in good and bad ways, but I still love being around them.

I had an interesting experience last year: Took a job I thought would give me the good life - it was easier, no pressure, built around something I am good at and enjoy doing.... and I absolutely hated it and went totally crazy. Being by myself too much was very bad for me, and I realised I need a "family" at work. Also, even though it stresses me out some times, I need a bit of stress as well.
posted by smoke at 5:09 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

It feels a bit smug to say that the good things are things I've mostly already managed: I have an apartment I love. I have a snuggly kitten. This morning I sat in the park with a friend and her new baby and we ate carrots and hummus while her three year old ran around on the play equipment. I came home and had a nap. Now I'm waiting to meet up with a different friend for an outdoor showing of The Royal Tenenbaums.

I wouldn't change a thing.
posted by janepanic at 5:17 PM on June 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

80% of my household currently has strep throat, and all four of us are on DIFFERENT MEDICATION SCHEDULES, but at the same time having an antibiotic-treatable illness (or even more especially, my kids having one) always makes me super-grateful for antibiotics, so I guess I'll include antibiotics in the good life. :D
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:30 PM on June 3, 2017 [14 favorites]

You know I think the good life has to have a bit of pain associated with it. Several kinds, too. Rough experiences, loss, actual physical pain, soreness, hurt feelings, regret. We can't really appreciate when things are good without something to contrast it with. Which may be why some of the best artists, and writers come from miserable beginnings. To feel true and intense good and revel in its golden glory, owning a full spectrum of experience is your best approach.

Though I'm also a hedonist and I've got to give a shout out to my very dear friend, Pleasure. I love that motherfucker. Always encouraging risk, putting me in the middle of delightfully complex puzzles, and in the end, O the ahhhhhs. Pleasure might be God's only real gift to his creation. Food, fun, and the fucking, oh that glorious fucking. And jokes, lots of jokes. Booze might stop by, drugs will sneak in at some point. Everyone will bring a dish or a beverage, and we'll laugh all night, save for the occasional quicky in the upstairs bathroom. And there'll be a few hook-ups in the spare bedroom. Maybe one in the garage. Then we'll put on some music and drunkenly dance and sing along until the neighbor knocks and asks us to please turn it down, which we will, we're not assholes, we're just having some fun. But only a little, and we'll whisper-shout the chorus, and play it again and again and again. And those still around in the morning, picking pubic hair out of their teeth and looking for coffee. They'll go for breakfast at the diner down the street, and eat every variety of pork and egg they find on the menu. And then we'll go home, and finally fall asleep. Even the wicked must rest. And tomorrow is wearing its serious face.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:32 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I just met a very cute, very emotional, very gay trans boi that I am crushing hard on and the crush is reciprocated!! So I've been riding the butterflies for the past few days. I feel like a teen in the best way possible.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:42 PM on June 3, 2017 [24 favorites]

I'm also off for the next two days and I'm going to be playing Prey non stop.
posted by Fizz at 6:12 PM on June 3, 2017

For me, it's crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me, and hearing the movie references of their women.

Also the taste of butter. Now that's what I call living deliciously!

Someone stop me before I make a Firefly reference!

posted by stet at 6:18 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Good health. I haven't always had it, but when I do, it makes lots of good things possible and many other things easier.
posted by jazzbaby at 6:28 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Since I picked the question, I'll answer ... I think I'd go with the Teddy Roosevelt quote, "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." From studying to parenting to MetaFiltering to school boarding, I like worthwhile work.

I will also include good books, a hammock, good cheese, and sloppy baby kisses in my good life. And huge extended family gatherings.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:47 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

It was hot at hell today at IU Bloomington where my son's team placed 4th place at the Indiana IHSAA Unified Track & Field State Championship* this afternoon. He got 3rd place in his individual event. Not bad for a kid who until very recently spent all of his free time playing Minecraft. Now he wants to start jogging so he can do even better next year, which is an encouraged if very alien activity in our family of great indoorspeople.

* - Unified Sports® was first developed by Special Olympics as a means of providing a quality experience of sports training and competition in an inclusive environment that allows friendships to form. It is the vision of this joint IHSAA / Special Olympics Indiana (SOIN) sports project to allow high school students with and without intellectual disabilities to collectively represent their high school in an IHSAA sanctioned activity by participating together on a Unified Sports® team.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:25 PM on June 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

Lately I have been thinking that good company, either friends or family, is where it's at.

Which is slightly annoying to realize _now_ considering I have spent most of my adult life making sure I can spend days or even weeks without having to interact with other people in person.
posted by Memo at 7:41 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

The last couple days have been the good life for me: yesterday I worked from home on some awesome clean-tech projects, got out to the gym in the middle of the afternoon for a good workout, hung out with my girls and wife in the evening. Today I spent all day with my girls at this park in Redmond that has a bunch of chickens, goats, cows, pigs, and horses, and while they napped I finished up recording a new track. Then when they got up we went down to the beach.

I'm tired as hell but it's been almost perfect. Being able to work on projects I have a passion for, spend time with family, exercise, and create art is my best life. It's been kind of a tough road to here, but at the same time I'm hugely grateful for all these gifts.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:56 PM on June 3, 2017

Not having to check to make sure your friends weren't unlucky.

The good life is entirely circumstantial.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:01 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

My spouse (Seriously, y'all should meet her, she's the best!), our neurotic rescue dog, good smells coming from the kitchen, I'm so lucky.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:02 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

The chilly, almost-dead piglet that comes back to life when I warm it under my shirt and take it out for a moment and the dog licks it and its eyes fly open. The taste of a sun-toasty strawberry. The crackle of a bread loaf straight from the oven. A child, pissy all day, who asks to be read to, and kisses me good night. The first cup of coffee. The ache of muscles when I've been shoveling mulch. Seeing seeds sprout.

Not the good life, but the work of noticing the small and daily good in my life.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:02 PM on June 3, 2017 [13 favorites]

I'm a pretty simple guy with simple needs. I guess the good life for me, at least the one grounded in reality, is just a nice weekend at home. I'll get a project or two done around the house, go for a walk with my wife, goof off with my son, spend some time alone working on a hobby. Cook a nice meal. Enjoy a quiet cup of coffee in the morning while holding a magic screen in my hand. Have a cat sit on my lap. Maybe pet a dog. Interact with you fine folks while sipping a glass of scotch.

The life I'm living now is certainly better than I ever expected it to be. I've got a great family, a stable job, and though it took me a long time I've grown into my skin and finally become happy with who I am, so the good life is the one I'm actually living, not the one I thought I was going to live.
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 PM on June 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

Today I participated in an annual event that always makes me feel good: our college convocation ceremony.

I teach courses that are a pre-requisite for students in a wide variety of programs, so I usually know lots of the students who are graduating. In fact, one of my favourite students graduated today from a tough professional program after starting out with me doing her pre-reqs. I have rarely met someone so intellectually curious, humble, empathetic, smart, and capable; I have no doubt she will do that career for a few years and then go back for further education, grad school or medical school--she's amazing and I was fortunate to be her instructor.

It's a wonderful, life affirming thing to watch the students--young, old, everyone in between, mostly first-generation college students--cross the stage with a look of pride and be celebrated and cheered for their hard work. It makes me super verklempt every time and I love it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:20 PM on June 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

Consistent, heartwarming love with the love of my life. Lots of time with her. She has to feel fulfilled, interested, and cared for, and if I should die suddenly, her material well-being has to be guaranteed (within reasonable bounds).

A walkable neighborhood with a community--I need to know the people who live around me. And when I say walkable, I mean I need the following in a 10-15 min walking radius: groceries, a pub/bar, two cafes (at least one of which roasts coffee), a park, and a library (or great bookstore).

The means to not worry about essentials and not worry much about occasional reasonable luxuries.

The feeling that I'm not unduly contributing to gross injustice. I know the life I describe will be at the least complicit in atrocities all over the world, but in relative terms, I'd like to feel like I'm doing a little better (at least) than the mean.

Easy and pleasant communication with family members. Doesn't have to be frequent.

Clean, tolerable air.

An intense and active music community around the globe with at least a few people near me with whom I'm artistically compatible.

A shit ton of laughs and a satisfying mixture of life-seriousness and light-heartedness.

A very flexible schedule.

Possessions that last and that bring me joy or at least great utility.

A home of my own on a piece of land that I own.

Fresh berries in the morning.

Friends who feel comfortable just dropping by. And sticking around. Even if I'm not there.

A covered porch. A fireplace. Wood floors.

A good pair of shoes.

At least 300 books I haven't yet read but want to.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:34 PM on June 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Here is my good life: I took my ten year old niece to see Wonder Woman tonight. After fifteen minutes she leaned over and whispered, "I really like this," with a big smile on her face. Then, near the end, when Wonder Woman smote the bad guy, a little girl's voice rang out from the back of the theatre yelling, "YEAH!" and everyone laughed in a good natured way and I'm tearing up again just thinking about it. Life is short and unpredictable and I try so hard to sear these little moments into my memory. YEAH!
posted by something something at 8:44 PM on June 3, 2017 [18 favorites]

2 parts Aponia mixed with 2 parts Ataraxia and 1 part Eudaimonia. Stir gently and add a wedge of Arete to garnish.

Only fresh ingredients!
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 9:01 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Since I picked the question, I'll answer ... I think I'd go with the Teddy Roosevelt quote, "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

As someone who works hard at work that is worth doing, I think that's a load of crap.

For me, it's regular exercise, a really good bourbon, and a spouse that pitches in with the domestic work once in a while.

Today was my one day off over a three week span and goddamn if I didn't spend it cleaning house and doing minor repairs while the kids tried to kill each other and my wife was out all day with friends. Mrs. Bartfast has many praiseworthy attributes, but knowing what a toilet brush is for is not one of them.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:05 PM on June 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Over the years the answer to "what is the good life" has evolved and changed and grown and diminished, become lighter and darker, etc and etc for me... The answer is always today's answer, never what it's been or what it will be. Today's context is everything.

Things I've "let go of" as being essential to the "good life"... Fame, money, "things" in general. I've not only realized that they aren't necessary, they get in the way.

The few aspects that I've maintained through adulthood.... music, for me this has been an essential piece of my happiness (right now listening to k.d. lang's "A Case of You", which I have never heard before....I mourn at times that there is SO much music I'll never have time to listen to).

Dogs... There have only been a few that have truly entered my life, but their impact on who I am, why I am happy, is immeasurable. I'll end the day with my hand resting on a loyal companion and friend..

Dawns and Sunsets, and being outside, the woods, the water, the streams and lakes..consistently bring me peace and time for reflection.

Friends... again, only a few that have really entered my heart...the connection is everlasting and strong.

And so many experiences, sights, feels, hears, touches, smells, that are always present or merely fleeting... a baby's smile, smell of spring lilac, feeling a fish hit a line, thunderstorms, a smooth glass of wine, art, fog, night-sounds...this list is endless....and always changing....

Thanks for the opportunity to consider this... I wish you all the opportunity to absorb the good that the world has to offer you, and the ability to peacefully deflect those aspects that don't meld with who you are.
posted by HuronBob at 9:12 PM on June 3, 2017 [52 favorites]

I've been struck how, as I have entered my thirties, the paraphernalia of middle-class Western happiness--a stable career, adequate income, comfortable living conditions, and reasonable security for the foreseeable future--have become more important to me. I've been thinking more of starting a family and dream of owning a house (which will remain a dream until the next crash at least). How my younger self would marvel at my embourgeoisement! All the same, the thing that brings me the most happiness, indeed the indispensable component of the good life for me, is difficult even to put into words. It comes down, ultimately, to having the opportunity to lose myself in thinking really hard. I'm listening to a course of lectures on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, and that does it: following the argument of that incredibly difficult book is exhilarating. By retracting the development of Hegel's argument, it feels like I am enlarging my own mental world by stepping into his. It's at moments when I am totally absorbed in thought that requires all the intellectual resources I can muster that I feel most myself, most like I am doing what I ought to be doing. That in itself can't be a life, of course, but I can't imagine being without it.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 10:18 PM on June 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think for me the good life has to be freedom from drudgery. Like, I would love to cook, if there was a replicator in my kitchen that could make nutritious, palatable food for my family without my having to cook. The ability not to have to do it would release the freedom to enjoy it. Same with kid tasks - not having to do infinite laundry and chauffeur service would let me enjoy being a mom more, I think.
posted by corb at 11:25 PM on June 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

The good life for me would probably include not having OneRepublic's "Good Life" in my head right now. Sorry, now that's probably also part of the good life of anyone reading.

Um, but hm. Music is a balm, certainly, and necessary to the good life. That reminds me of the list I made, 10 years ago this month, of what I need to relax.
  1. Sleep.
  2. Music in the morning.
  3. Movies for catharsis.
  4. Reading-turned-naps.
  5. Unstructured time.
That's still rather accurate, although I get less sleep now than I used to get. Music in the morning is great; music all the time is better; immersing myself in music at a rock show is definitely peak-experience territory. To go from the relaxation list to my own "good life" list, I would add the following. It's all basically my specific turn on things that would fit into Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I suppose.
  • Beauty, and ideally someone with whom to share it
  • Moments of strange synchronicity, oddity, and hilarity
  • Creative expression through art, writing, and music
  • Being celebrated and cherished for being myself
  • Achieving self-acceptance, independent of all else
  • Getting to a place of comfort within my own body
  • Being challenged to become my best possible self
  • Resisting bargaining over facets of my identity
  • Finding ways to foster things I value in the world
  • Radical candor and ongoing freedom from pretense
  • Doing work that is fulfilling and uses my talents
  • Working in a supportive and nontoxic environment
  • Freedom from abuse, torture, addiction of any sort
  • Ongoing good fortune in terms of financial stability
  • Adventure, spontaneity, newness, and discovery
  • Finding regular time to travel and explore the world
  • Eating a varied, interesting, and sort of healthy diet
  • Living in some proximity to green things and nature
  • Physical comfort and space to own things and do stuff
  • Room in my life for intellectual pursuits and stimulation
  • Hobbies/projects: books, movies/TV, athletics, geekery
  • The internet and its nuances, learning, and connection
  • Chances to engage with other cultures and languages
  • Strong ongoing friendships online and ideally in person
  • Abiding relationships with my few family members
  • Deep love with someone who gets me on every level
  • Deep love with someone who's incredibly intuitive
  • Deep love with someone who's passionate about me
  • Deep love that follows the threads of my existence
  • A partner with whom I can be fully open and honest
  • Having kids in a supportive and fulfilling relationship
  • Health
I want a lot, I guess—or maybe just enough?
posted by limeonaire at 12:49 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

The good life, for me, is being outside and surrounded by nature. The wind in the trees, the sun on my face, the sight of fireflies swirling around me, the sounds of animals and birds, the changing landscape as I walk through it.

+ + + + +

Speaking of outside, recent forays there included a rural English village fete yesterday. It was ... okay. Been to better, been to worse, though as it is a large village and this was a professionally promoted event, it could have been organized a bit better, perhaps.

The show was opened by a traditional band. Now, myself and others watching were thinking "Right; I wonder what traditional tune they will open with? Maybe the national anthem; or something by Elgar, or something you'd hear on Radio Three or Last Night of the Proms?"


As they continued their somewhat unusual selection of tunes, I ambled over to the food section to consider options, eventually choosing some donuts because (a) the font (b) the American spelling and (c) the cheapness. I met someone with a similar retro t-shirt, looked at a steam engine, and used a portaloo which was a horrific experience which reminded me why I don't go to festivals any more (and what is it with my fellow English people and their utter inability to get their bodily waste into the place where it's supposed to go, rather than the floor, walls and ceiling?).

After securing my sanitizer I ambled back to the "arena" as some Vikings were performing. They were entertaining. Both authentic fighting (ignore the airplane - we're a few miles from an airport) and charging and roaring occurred. Fighting was good, but then they all killed each other so I wandered off to watch an attractive and talented lady and a man with less talent and fashion sense give a cookery demonstration. After a bit of singing I took a rural walk back to base.
posted by Wordshore at 1:00 AM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Other outings - often bovine-related - in recent days include an amble to a shooting range but either it was really not what I was expecting or I picked the wrong day, some evening walks, a nice cow who looked at me in a surprisingly intimate manner, (unrelated) the opening of a new cattle market which sold pies, a fete in the home and gardens of the aristocracy in a wealthy English village, and some other walks as the weather improves in England. And I was told off for sitting on a cow because, in my mind, I am and always will be thirteen.
posted by Wordshore at 1:21 AM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

"I see trees of green ... " One of the greatest goods in my current life is the view from the back verandah - trees, paddocks, birds, sometimes roos, lots of sky. When I step out there my heart lifts, my shoulders drop, I breathe easier, in that moment glad to be alive to look on such beauty, to live among these living things.

Yesterday afternoon, after some morning rain, the neighbour's cows were out grazing and near them was a multitude of white herons, a great carpet of them busily peck-pecking in the damp grass. Cows velvet black, herons vivid white, and I think to myself "what a wonderful sight".

Not to trash my old life, lived in another great location - inner-urban architecture, bohemian culture, parks and street trees, music and theatre and bookshops, pubs and cafes and whole-food emporiums. [emporia?] It was stimulating and nourishing in a whole 'nother way.

My current life would more closely resemble the fabled good life, the one where you grow your own fruit and veg and maybe run some chickens, if I was a half-way decent horti/permaculturist. I've failed there in so many ways I've given up trying. My inclinations tend toward the arts where, as a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich put it in their comment above, I feel "most like I am doing what I ought to be doing", and where I never give up trying.
posted by valetta at 1:27 AM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh fireflies, wordshore, yes indeed! And I think to myself, "what wonderful lights".
posted by valetta at 1:31 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by lollusc at 1:38 AM on June 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

Although, interestingly, I went to Google Photos to see whether Google's AI could figure out a picture from my albums to show me for a search on "the good life". It couldn't. But when I searched on "life" and then "good", there was only one photo that appeared in both results, and I think it's a pretty fair representation. The cup of tea is key.
posted by lollusc at 1:43 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sleeping in. Good company. Getting to work on fascinating, complicated problems in a way that feels exploratory even years into the work.

Big goofy dogs in the house. Leisurely breakfasts. Working from home in a hammock. Little vacations more frequently than Americans usually take them.

And then professionally, having a non-toxic, inclusive larger academic community that one of my feminist science heroines described yesterday as truly welcoming of anyone with an interest in the discipline.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:50 AM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fresh air. No allergies. Time to spend at the beach. The freedom to focus on one thing at a time. Napping with my cat. Good food. Privacy. Peace. Never being in a rush. A comfortable bed. The ability to provide for myself and others. Reading for pleasure. Good health. Really excellent Mexican and Indian food. Getting to pet a dog when I'm out and about. Being a benefit, not a burden. Cooking with my parents or best friend. Progress.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:58 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Thames looks olive green and oceanic this morning. A couple of cyclists on the Thames path. May take a long walk in the park later on the way to the pub, feel the trees over my head, the air on my skin.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:43 AM on June 4, 2017

... right now listening to k.d. lang's "A Case of You"

Thanks for the reminder, HuronBob. Great cover, great song, listening now.
posted by valetta at 3:58 AM on June 4, 2017

Hrm. A concrete example: I see that this Ask-discussion about what to say to neighbors who comment on one's garden work in a "don't you ever stop?" type of way, got a somewhat unexpected Pittsburg twist at the end.
Reading this just now, my brain spontaneously went into doodle mode, connecting "garden," "Pittsburgh," and "Paris" - you know, just because - and I went hunting on Youtube for the trailer of Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle" and the lawn-mowing solitary neighbor scene:
I give you: gardening in 1958 in Paris [0:38-0:40].

The backward route from a AskMetafilter question via Trump's Paris-Pittsburg non-analogy to Tati is a bit of a tri-dimensional anachronism (is this, finally, a covfefe?), to be sure, (and it doesn't answer the question, is why I'm talking about it here and not on the green), but this kind of stuff gives me enormous pleasure. Allowing myself to think silly thoughts and make fun connections in my mind (and/or on paper/the screen) is a major ingredient of what's the good life for me. It balances all the shit one has to deal with; it helps keeping the sad things that happen in one's life (and that, for a person with an excellent memory, begin to pile up in a rather disconcerting way after 50) reasonably at bay.

(Then, there's food, coffee, wine, cats, gardening, making music, and not to forget talking to the good people in my life, model trains [even if I dropped a locomotive yesterday and had to order parts as a consequence...getting older is a bit less great sometimes]).
posted by Namlit at 4:20 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a really interesting question.

On a personal level, I've settled on the notion that the good life is achieved by minimizing opportunity for regret. For me, that means always choosing the scariest and least certain option and pursuing every decision with unreserved, maniacal effort. Given a choice between being bored and being scared, scared is guaranteed to be more fulfilling. (This is, I realize, not optimal for everyone. If nothing else, being free to fail at things without taking down any innocent people with you is a luxury few humans in the world enjoy. Having no dependents and no significant family obligations is an incredible gift. I am constantly grateful to have lucked into that circumstance.)

As a global citizen, not actively making the world a worse place seems like a pretty low bar, but it's still a challenge. It's something I aspire to but am rarely sure I achieve.

Much less seriously, the good life means having central air, a world class public transit system at your door, and a passably good taco shop on the block that's open late. I'm living the good life.
Teddy Roosevelt quote, "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
Are politics allowed if they're 120 year old politics? I'm absolutely sold on this quote. At the same time, I sure wish Teddy Roosevelt hadn't worked so hard at half the things he did. Recognizing a deep personal resonance with a Roosevelt quote is. . . a bit disturbing.
posted by eotvos at 8:17 AM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sitting on the side porch of our house on a spring morning drinking coffee, reading the news and smelling all the flowers in our garden that surrounds the porch on two sides.
posted by octothorpe at 8:40 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

To me, the Good Life will always be the timeless classic from Inner City.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:21 AM on June 4, 2017

This is a great question and I'd have to spend some time thinking about how to really answer it but my immediate thought was the Good Life has something to do with having three library cards. *pats wallet fondly*
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

So this is sort of a combo "good life" answer and general update. A dear friend from Chicago came down to visit me this weekend while my husband is out of town, and it was such an amazing visit that I'm actually kind of teary about it. Peoria was ON POINT and had all sorts of cool stuff going on, and she got to be a judge at a cooking competition, and the restaurants we went to served us perfect food, and I got to surprise her with a hike you would NOT expect in Peoria (and we saw six deer and two wild turkeys!), and we just had a great time together. I feel all sorts of love for my city and for my friend, and it's just... you know, good.

Aaand she left her leftover brisket in the fridge. BONUS.
posted by obfuscation at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

(deer! The good life for sure needs nature.)
posted by obfuscation at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2017

In order of increasingly "good", a la Maslow:

Security: freedom from worry about where the money for bills is coming from, security against randomly losing a job, health insurance, savings enough to pay for unexpected car repairs, etc.

Relative autonomy: my day has a fair amount of discretionary time to do whatever I want to do (even though there will always be SOME non-optional things like projects from the boss, cooking, household chores, etc.)

Having a vision for the future and using some of my discretionary time to make tangible progress toward that vision. Both for work projects and home life. Just working assembly-line style on whatever comes up is nice, and necessary, but eventually gets me down if there's too much of that and not enough changing things for the better.

Having enough security, autonomy, and satisfaction with goal progress to just... stop and enjoy where I'm at once in a while without guilt.
posted by ctmf at 12:28 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Me and Jim got up this morning (I got him up a little earlier than usual, he's taking a nap now) and got some coffee and went out on the porch. On our way out, before we opened the door, we saw that there were two groundhogs out there. Rupert, the one we named last year, and a wee groundhog (now named Lupert) nibbling at some fallen birdseed. We both held our breath and stood there together with our coffee being amazed at the cuteness of the little groundhog. The two animals ate for a little while longer and eventually wandered off and we went outside and sat around and looked at birds (13 species!) and chipmunks for another hour or so and went off to get breakfast before we were so hungry that we were crabby. My life is complicated and I am somewhat complicated... being able to set that aside from time to time and just share some simple time with my best guy on a sunny day. I don't know about the Good Life, the world confuses me and I confuse myself, but that was a really great few hours and there will be more like them.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2017 [19 favorites]

This thread is great and has made me a bit teary-eyed and also feeling grateful and ridiculously privileged. It is so interesting how almost everyone lists little daily moments, easily attainable things - music, pets, nature, good food or a quiet moment with a book...

... but of course in order to enjoy all of that (as some have pointed out), you need your basic needs met. You need to not have to worry about where the rent comes from, or whether your spouse (or yourself) will come home safe that night, etc.

And you may also prevented from enjoying these simple things by your head being screwy and telling you lies. I had a flashback just now of when I used to write"gratitude lists" cuz I was told it would help with my depression, and they made me feel so awful. Nothing was good, ever.

Seems it's both so very simple, and incredibly difficult.

(Cats tho. Cats are everything.)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I made a list of all my goals this morning and then I tried to organize and group them and whatnot and in the end I decided all my goals came down to two goals: Be serene & leave something I'm proud of behind me when I go. So I guess that's my definition of the good life now.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 12:59 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

For me, it would be having the opportunity to read, cat lapping included, whenever I wanted. Very simple.

But to get there, all the other facets of existence will need to align and create just the right non-precarious situation.
posted by mightshould at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2017

It is neither hot nor sunny. That'll do for today. Anything more invites wistfulness, or worse.
posted by monopas at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

And the sun has made me a liar, once again.
- insert futile skyward fistwaving here -
posted by monopas at 2:21 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think Jessamyn has it- I'm never sure what the good life is, whether I'm a city mouse or country mouse and/or what I'm actually trying to accomplish most of the time. I also "work hard at worthwhile work" and it makes me tired and stressed out and on empathy-overload. Sometimes it's nice to get away from all of out in nature and have nothing on your mind other than what's right in front of you- which is often more than enough.
posted by bquarters at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Later, as they ride across the wasteland, the Citadel diminishing behind them, they remember a quiet Sunday when posting to MetaTalk seemed a pleasant way to waste a little time. 'That life was good, wasn't it?' they ask.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:28 PM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this is such a hard question! Having recently moved from a place that the whole family hated to one that we like a lot, I think it's easier than normal for me to see what The Good Life includes. This morning I walked up along the Erie Canal on the way to a tiny UU church service (The Blessing of the Animals!), and when I got home there were doughnuts waiting for me. Then this afternoon, while my spouse turned wood from a neighbor's felled tree on his lathe (he's making a living box for another neighbor to put her daughter's ashes in, as a surprise), my 6-year-old and I walked over to get some clothes from the tailor, and then he suggested we stop in to look at the new rabbit art on display in the gallery, which we did, and there were musicians jamming there, so we looked at the art and listed to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Erie Canal" and then we left and wandered back home along the canal and when we got home I set his watch to go off at 6:30 so he knew when to come home for dinner and he rode off on his bike to find his friends and I sat and read my book and although there were other things in the day that weren't 100% lovely I can't help feeling that it doesn't get much better than this.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:41 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I grew up in the country, and every so often I'll be in a place that reminds me of where I grew up: a cheap, unimpressive house with a screen door that creaks and bangs behind you, but when you step outside, all you hear is the wind blowing through the trees and the tall grass. There's a park about 40 minutes away from us that gives me that same feeling of quiet. That's good living.

Realistically I'll never live in a place like that again if I want to have a job. It's still the dream, but probably won't be the reality. Besides, every so often I get a moment of clarity through my usual haze of medical problems, anxiety, and depression -- to say nothing of abject fear over the state of the world -- and I'll have to admit that I've got an OK day-to-day life. I'm with someone I love, I do things I'm interested in, and I'm not currently starving to death. It may not last forever, but things could be much worse. Of course, now that I say it I worry that I've jinxed it, but I think part of that is how hard it can be to recognize the good things around you. I'm happiest when I'm not living in my head all the time.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:18 PM on June 4, 2017

Uh, Gotanda...Article XIII...(also).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:05 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

As long as I know I'll see my partner eventually, solitude combined with long, open-ended stretches of completely unstructured time never fails to make me happy.
posted by jamjam at 12:14 AM on June 5, 2017

Sure, Gotanda. Not trying to be a scold (and I'm not judging)--just making sure you knew the what what. And I'm totally with you on people watching on the train in Tokyo!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:04 AM on June 5, 2017

Mr. CMcG and I are on our Oslo trip, which in itself represents a lot of aspects of the good life --- travel, economic security, etc. However while here I've gotten a UTI, stuck in an elevator (with accompanying panic attack), and today a bad cold. On the other hand, I figured out quick medical care and was able to get a diagnosis for my UTI thanks to living in an era of amazing technology, we were out of the elevator in half an hour through the coordinated efforts of three strangers & I learned things about myself, and today Mr. CMcG left me carefully wrapped snacks so when I woke up from trying to get better, I would have nutritious food.

By nature, I am not a positive person. The elevator thing reminded me how quickly I go to catastrophizing (I was immediately concerned with how much air there was in the elevator), but I am learning that I can practice positivity. I don't know, but I think that makes a good life.

Also our first child is at 23 weeks and is really kicking now. I love her.
posted by CMcG at 4:01 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm still trying to figure out my overall definition of good life, but yesterday was a really good day. I had chores to do, sure, but I got to spend time with my partner, just hanging out, had a birthday celebration with my dad's side of the family, and then had dinner with my mom and youngest sister and her two daughters (who I see maybe once a year). They were both on their best behavior (and had coloring books, provided by the restaurant) so managed to get through dinner behaving pretty well.

Then, we stopped at a local independent bookstore, where the person working was incredibly helpful, and everyone was allowed one book. The girls (5 and 10) were incredibly excited to get a book, although I did have to explain that this was a bookstore, not a library, so they wouldn't need to bring the book back, as I was buying it for them and they got to keep it. It was a lot of fun - I got to be the fun aunt, treating them!

Then, once I got home, I spent a little time with the bunny, who snuggled, and we watched Twin Peaks!
posted by needlegrrl at 5:50 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Good life for me: healthy, financially secure, able to travel with my husband and best friend and not in a rush to be anywhere. Also, a small fluffy dog. And all the coffee I can drink. That's pretty much it for me. I have every intention of doing that every single day upon our retirement. In the meantime, we have the fluffy dog, the financial security, and the health, for which I am so, so grateful.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:11 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have some errands to run, then I'm going to my bar to do my Old Guy Music laptop DJ gig and do shots and beers. Then I'm gonna get a Philly-style roast pork special. Tomorrow I'm going to take my monthly "personal day" (thanx union) that my bosses guilt tripped me into not taking on Saturday.

The good life? Not a bad life. Today anyway.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

And my Hillsboro Hops cap arrived. I look most splendiferous in it, I must say.
posted by jonmc at 8:38 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fluffballs, a garden, financial security so I can afford good food and a home for the fluffballs and me, good friends, a patch of earth to garden, music, books, and a comfy bed to sleep in.

Growing up my dream was merely to live independently. I never dreamt of traveling all that much; I figured getting to set foot in the Louvre once would be the end-all and be-all. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the life I've already had; I can genuinely say it's beyond anything I dreamt. (I have, of course, lived in Paris for three years now, and have seen more of the world than ever occurred to me as being possible.)
posted by fraula at 10:23 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

And my Hillsboro Hops cap arrived. I look most splendiferous in it, I must say.

My team! Here's my son in his Hops hat at his first baseball game (Hops v. Aquasox), when he was 2.5.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

My family used to go up to a lake in the middle of effing nowhere, rent a huge old house, and spend a week there. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, partners. Nothing to figure out or negotiate except for who's going on the boat and who's going to the beach, and how late is the party store open so we can restock the beers, and who is grilling all of the things tonight?

Despite years of other very nice experiences, this version of the Good Life has had absolutely zero competition for me and I have dedicated the entirety of my life's efforts and dollars to purchasing a huge old house on a lake in the middle of nowhere (and building a completely remote-work career), so that we can do this, or a close approximation thereof, forever.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I often tell myself I was lucky and privileged to be born as a human, in this body, at this time in history, on this continent, to loving parents, and everything else has been icing on the cake – good friends, good job, not freaked out easily. Sure, there have been puzzles and problems to solve, but overall I am a lucky person, most of the rolls of the dice have gone my way, and that is the good life.

Plus I seem to have an in with the powers-that-be what control well-located empty parking spaces.
posted by not_on_display at 11:28 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, I need to write out my retirement plan somewhere so that I can come back and see it in print when I am low and wont to hide out under my desk and count the days (3,283) until my retirement. Can I share with you MeFites? Because I feel like I can share this with you. The husband and I are inordinately fond of traveling in RVs. He enjoys driving then parking, getting hooked up to all of the water and power stuff and then getting very high. I enjoy cooking on the road and exploring all there is to explore with my stoned husband trailing along happily beside me. This is our plan for my 60th birthday. Sometime between his 60th and my 60th, we will buy a gigantic RV. I will, by then have sold all unnecessary items that we own (I started after the election). I will fill the RV with sheets, towels, kitchen items and coffee (and I guess a few other necessities). We will set up renters in our lovely home and start by driving North. Anywhere. Just North. We will not come home until we have seen all of North America and we can't stand it another minute or we die. If MeFi is still around (which it will be) I will have a running site of what area we'll be in next so you can all come sit with us a spell.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:22 PM on June 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Vacuuming the house
Good cheese
Brewing my own beer and drinking my own beer
Playing soccer, pool, darts, and pinball
Reading with my daughter
Record shopping
Comic books
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:38 PM on June 5, 2017

Vacuuming the house is not in my good life column. When the vacuuming is done life is certainly better. But perhaps I am missing something about the experience. Or I have too much furniture.

I was at a funeral today, we said goodbye to a workmate, late fifties. Learned quite a bit more about her life - the kindness that was shown her, single mother of three, when she moved to this town and the kindness she returned in spades through years of voluntary service for a long list of organizations doing the hard yakka, cooking and cleaning.

While I'm here I must apologise for the unfortunate error in my earlier comment in this thread. I was describing the scene to a friend today, we were on the back verandah at the time, and he told me they weren't herons, couldn't have been herons, they were egrets. I always get that one wrong. Sorry.
posted by valetta at 11:42 PM on June 5, 2017

Excellent! They were definitely too small to be herons. Having erred both publicly and privately and been schooled verbally and in writing, I have a feeling I will never make this mistake again.

Next time the egrets accompany the cows I must listen for their vexed vocalisations. On the occasion I reported they were probably too contented, given the cows had reduced the grass to stubble and easy access to delicious grubs and things in the damp soil.
posted by valetta at 12:07 AM on June 6, 2017

It stormed this morning. I can almost never tell about wind from this house because it is sheltered but wind there was and it huffed and puffed and blew down sodden trees and the power went out at six which is when we wash kiddos and make breakfast. #3 volunteers to check the driveway and says we are screwed. Show me? Yup, we're screwed.

Duke says 161 customers down. So it's chainsaw time all up and down the valley. You get your own stuff clear and head towards the remaining noise and we got clear first. We help but what we really have are dogs who will tell if the top of the tree is coming down first. Power company is coming in along the road. They have human spotters.

So we are exhausted and asleep but the kids are ajitter from no school and they answer the door and it is two RN's from the hospital who did double shifts and can't get home at 2 am and they have groceries. The light was on and they just came here.

One of them cooks us a spectacular meal while the other relates a funny and terrible story about breaking up with her bf. Figure out a plan to cut them out in the morning and we put extra towels in the big bath. If anybody knew there was a house up there they'd be cut out already.

Boy can't sleep and that usually means informing me when I'm asleep and that's better than him up to his own devices. On the porch he asks me how I decide who to be nice to. Oh sweetie that's a slow process that only gets faster if you do it again and again.

I'm not deflecting. Good question. Needs an answer. This is the good life.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:39 AM on June 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I get to go to Captain Underpants tomorrow, with my Grandson. Nobody told me this would be a part of the good life.
posted by Oyéah at 8:36 PM on June 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wait, wait, wait, salads this time of year that get more, and more, and more ingredients as you make them. Tonight, grilled chicken, butter lettuce, tomato, feta, pecans, blueberries, fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, and bit of mayo, tossed, a sprinkle of Spike.
posted by Oyéah at 8:43 PM on June 7, 2017

Hello nice people. I took a few months off because I needed to have a span of time with the lowest possible daily allowance of Trump in it.

I'm back now and I brought donuts. Try the buttercrunch. They're the best.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:48 PM on June 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

They are, actually, the best. Welcome back.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2017

Thanks, everybody, for sharing! I'm still working out what the good life really means to me, but for now, I'm so happy that I have enough left over after bills that my food budget has really ballooned into an entertainment budget. (I have been that lucky for a long while, but I've only recently started processing that emotionally.) It was a slow transition for ramen to go from home cooked staple to delicious meal out, but I still get this ever-so-tiny giddy moment every time my GPS states that "I've arrived".
posted by fragmede at 8:54 AM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't want to spam everyone I know IRL with updates on this, so I'll share it here: after months of watching my diet, exercising more, etc. I've lost 30 pounds! So the good life for me, right now, is spending time with my sweet husband and cats, eating healthy tasty food that I cooked, and moving around more without getting so winded.
posted by cp311 at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

« Older Why allow blocking private messages?   |   129: We're Blaming Everything On Pancakes Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments