Feature Article

A glimpse into the future….

Vibrant Living Magazine ~ September 28, 2055

“Secrets from the Golden Age: What it means to live a fulfilling life”  by  Bradley Summers

As I drive home from my visit to Haliburton after enjoying afternoon tea in the solarium at the beachfront summer home of Catherine Miles and her husband Christopher, I reflect on our parting words and how they tie into our lengthy conversation about life.

“Remember to be true to yourself and live life to the fullest, Bradley. That is the path to true happiness,” she said staring into my eyes while nodding with a smile.

Three weeks prior to our meeting, I was given a new assignment: to find out from our elders what it means to live a fulfilling life. Nominations for potential interviewees were in abundance, but the one I received from her granddaughter spoke to me. It told a story about a lady who cared for everyone, judged no one and gave to all.

Keeping true to her nature, she humbly declined my request for an interview, claiming that her life is no different than any other, but when I read passages from the nomination letter, she said she would do it for her granddaughter because she understood that it was important to her, otherwise she would not have spent time writing such kind words.

Now 76 years young, Catherine continues to live a vibrant life, one that is filled with stories about her world travels and helping others. Although she stays closer to home in her golden years, her global outreach continues to touch the hearts of many.

“How did your Speak from the Heart, Feel with the Soul program become so popular?” I ask.

“I’ve always been one for writing. It is a favourite pastime of mine. At the turn of the century, blogging was an easy way for people to share their knowledge with others. I was lucky. My blog, which led to my books, became popular because parents could relate to what I was writing and they found the lessons helpful.”

“I can’t help but notice how calm and happy you are,” I confess. “It is as if even your eyes are smiling at me,” I chuckle a little with slight embarrassment for having shared that thought aloud. “What is your secret?”

“I live a life of gratitude. I see beauty everywhere. I see it in people, I see it in nature, I see it in architecture, I see it in the arts, I see it in the rhythmic waves of the ocean, the swaying of the trees in the wind, the laughter of a child….it is all around us!” she explains joyfully.

“Everywhere I go, and everyone I meet, I leave them with a gift,” she says. “Whether it is a trinket, a kind word, a helping hand or simply a sincere smile, I give to others. As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Kindness is a universal language; spoken from the heart and felt by the soul.”

She explained that the universe operates through a constant exchange of energy. Giving and receiving are two elements through which energy flows. Referencing to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a theorist in the mid-19th century, she tells me that what you get in life is a reflection of what you give in life.

“It is through our willingness to live as grateful givers, without the expectation of reciprocity that the dynamic flow of giving and receiving manifests within us,” says Catherine.

“What does this mean for us, the next generation, your grandchildren? What can we do today to live a fulfilling life tomorrow?” I ask her.

“It means that to live a life of abundance, one in which you are truly happy and grateful, you must graciously receive and acknowledge all the gifts that already enrich your life and graciously give to others on an unconditional daily basis,” she says.

The key is to make these acts of kindness a habit, she tells me. Before you know it, you will unconsciously be living a life of gratitude. Happiness and prosperity will become a natural daily occurrence.

“This doesn’t mean that life will always go as planned,” she clarifies. “We all experience highs and lows, but how we see challenging circumstances and our chosen path for action will change. The result will be a clearer, more positive thought process. You will begin to see the silver lining on even the darkest of clouds.”

“Learning is a lifelong process,” she adds. “We must remain open to all situations if we are to live a life of peace and gratitude. A closed mind is the same as shutting the door on life. Our world continues to change, people change, technology changes…far too fast for me to keep up with now-a-days,” she chuckles, “and the moment we become complacent and fall into a static mindset, we fall from the flow of abundance into the depths of despair.”

These are deep thoughts, I think to myself. I understand what she is saying and oddly enough I feel as though I already knew these truths before I arrived, yet I wasn’t fully aware of them. My heart feels lifted. I sense new found hope within me. I am content.

I look at my watch and see that two hours has passed. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I thank her for her time and hospitality. As we rise from our seats, she thanks me for my time and for fulfilling her granddaughter’s wish to have this article written. Again, her focus is on others.

Standing in the entrance on the Nantucket-style verandah, she hugs me goodbye; an embrace not usually used for new acquaintances, yet it was heartfelt and appreciated.

“Keep dreaming, Bradley. For a dream is a wish your heart makes…that’s a quote from Cinderella, one of my favourite Disney movies which was well before your time, but there is truth is those words. Live a life of endless possibilities and follow your heart’s desires. Think about your future, visualize a plan and put it into action. Anything you want in life, you can create. My wish for you is that you live life to the fullest. Thank you again for visiting, Bradley. I enjoyed our time together.”

At 76 years of age, I don’t know if we will ever have a chance to chat like that again. I enjoyed my time with her and am grateful that I was given this assignment.

Driving home through the densely covered tree-lined streets over rolling hills and the occasional open meadow, where deer bask in the warm autumn sun setting on the horizon, I am taken aback by the richness of the fall colours that surround me.

“Being in tune with nature and appreciating all that the world has to offer,” is one of the tips she shared with me.

Although these leaves are no more vibrant than they were when I drove past them a few hours before, I see them differently now; red as bright as crimson, yellow as golden as the sun, orange as ripe as a clementine and brown as rich as the earth.

Perhaps I’m more in tune in with all the beauty that the world has to offer? Perhaps this is a taste of what it means to live life to the fullest…and how rich and satisfying it feels!