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Since Youth, I Have Aspired to “Celebrate Life”

Painting my friend as much as I painted the house in West Virginia, 1976.

Happiness, joy, and celebration are not just lofty ideals but essential components of a meaningful life. These perspectives have profoundly influenced my understanding of what it means to celebrate life.

New York, N.Y. In the vibrant era of the 1980s, amidst a backdrop of significant societal changes, the Episcopal Church introduced a message that profoundly resonated with me: “Celebrate Life.” As the state (diocesan) youth representative for the Episcopal Church, I was deeply engaged in promoting this life-affirming message across various communities.

This initiative was more than just a slogan; it encapsulated the church’s efforts to spread joy, hope, and gratitude in times of uncertainty. Reflecting on my journey, I realize that the aspiration to celebrate life has been a guiding principle that shaped my experiences and outlook on life.

The phrase “Celebrate Life” was part of a broader movement within the Episcopal Church aimed at connecting with people on an emotional and spiritual level. It was a call to appreciate the beauty of existence, to be grateful for our blessings, and to remain hopeful despite challenges. This message manifested in numerous church activities and campaigns designed to uplift and inspire communities through faith and collective support. It taught us to find joy in everyday moments and to see life as a precious gift worth celebrating.

Fooling around with friends (middle) on the Trans-Siberian express as we traveled along the Chinese border, 1981.

To celebrate life is to embrace a mindset of gratitude and optimism.

It involves acknowledging and appreciating what we have while looking forward to what lies ahead. This philosophy respects both tradition and novelty, recognizing the value in the past while eagerly anticipating the future. Celebrating life envisions a world where people can access their full potential, express themselves freely, and engage in creative opportunities for growth. It is about dreaming of a world where humanity harmonizes with nature, fostering health, peace, and mutual respect.

Fooling around with university friends in Japan, 1980.

This vision of life celebration aligns with the idea of stepping back into our rightful place within nature, where respect and inclusion are paramount. It encourages an ever-expanding celebration of life that transcends individual experiences and connects us with a larger, communal purpose. One of the most profound reasons for celebrating life is that it allows friends and family to focus on the positive aspects of a person’s journey, fostering a sense of community and shared joy.

Checking in on those who have scored highest on The Luce Index, we find:

Oprah Winfrey [The Luce Index score: 99] eloquently putting it, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” This quote underscores the reciprocal nature of gratitude: the more we appreciate life, the more we find to appreciate.

Similarly, Maya Angelou [The Luce Index score: 97] speaks, “Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it,” echo this sentiment. Life is an investment, and the returns are proportional to the love and effort we put into it.

The Dalai Lama [The Luce Index score: 98] reflects, “I often ask myself what the purpose of life is. I conclude that it is to be happy,” speaks to the simplicity and universality of this pursuit. Happiness, joy, and celebration are not just lofty ideals but essential components of a meaningful life. These perspectives have profoundly influenced my understanding of what it means to celebrate life.

Selfies with friends in New York, 2019.

Personal experiences have reinforced my commitment to this philosophy. I remember painting my friend more than the house in West Virginia in 1976. It was not just about the task at hand but the camaraderie, the shared laughter, and the sense of accomplishment that made the experience memorable.

Another cherished memory is from 1981, fooling around with friends on the Trans-Siberian express as we traveled along the Chinese border. The sense of adventure and the bond of friendship during that journey were celebrations of life’s spontaneity and connection. More recently, in 2019, taking selfies with friends in New York reminded me of the simple joy found in companionship and shared moments.

These experiences have taught me that celebrating life is about recognizing and cherishing these moments of connection, joy, and gratitude. It is about fostering relationships, appreciating the beauty around us, and being hopeful about the future. The Episcopal Church’s message to “Celebrate Life” was a call to live fully and intentionally, to find joy in the present, and to be hopeful for what is to come.

Since my youth, I have aspired to “Celebrate Life” as a way of embracing gratitude, optimism, and joy. This philosophy, deeply rooted in my youthful experiences with the Episcopal Church, continues to guide me. It reminds me to appreciate the present, honor the past, and look forward to the future with hope and enthusiasm. Life is a precious gift, and celebrating it is the best way to honor it.

Since Youth, I Have Aspired to “Celebrate Life” (May 24, 2022)

#CelebrateLife #Gratitude #Joy #EpiscopalChurch #LifeAffirming #Community #Hope #Faith #PositiveLiving #Optimism #CherishMoments #SpiritualGrowth #NatureHarmony #RespectInclusion #PersonalGrowth #SharedJoy #Friendship #Memories #AppreciateLife #FutureHope

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