“You can’t make your life longer, but you can make it…”

Wonderful revelations and wisdom come by merely listening to what others share. In a recent session of my Memories to Memoirs™ workshop, one of the participants shared with the group one of her key philosophies. She is Chinese, married to a man who teaches at the local university. Her perspective was truly global but can be implemented at the place where you currently stand.

Wenhan said, “I know that we can’t make our life longer, but I believe we can make it wider.”  I was immediately intrigued. She continued, explaining how she believed she could expand her horizons in life by travelling, by listening and by learning. I paused the discussion to compliment the great wisdom in the simple clarity, “…we believe we can make it wider.” I don’t think she realized how brilliant and understated her wisdom was when she said it; such is how wisdom passes from one person to another.

Whether it is taking a trip to the other side of the world, or going to a nearby town with a great local history; whether it is reading one of the great works, or the story your child or grandchild wrote in school; whether it is attending a lecture on a topic about which you are not well-versed, or listening to the story of the stranger sharing tidbits while standing in the grocery checkout line … we can, and should, expand the width of our knowledge, perspectives and connections. Listen to life; there is wisdom in its stories.

My first time to ever travel outside the United States was 2010 when I had the privilege of teaching photography at University of West Bohemia in a week-long summer program in Pilsen, Czech Republic. I was able to repeat that experience the following two summers, too. The experiences and interactions with the students were incredibly eye-opening.

It comes as no surprise that so many surveys reveal that one of the most common regrets of older people is that they did not travel. But then again, there is beauty, new perspectives and much to appreciate within 20 feet of where you stand now. There is something to see differently, something to appreciate or someone to talk to. It is a beauty-full life (see my ongoing project, A Beauty-full Life 2019), and there are many ways to make your life wider by what you hear, see, taste, touch and feel.

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