The ancient Greeks called it Eudaimonia -- a melodic sounding, high-brow word that loosely translates to happiness, but that refers to an ideal existence where humanity is flourishing. Thriving. Living The Good Life. No matter how fortunate we are, we will always strive for the idea of something better.
Plato was convinced The Good Life could be found in walking a virtuous path, free of desires. Buddhists seem to share that line of reasoning. Thoreau insisted it was woven into the fabric of nature. Marx thought it could be found only after the end of capitalism. Milton Friedman believed it would happen at the hands of an ever-bountiful free market. Poets, musicians and artists have looked for it in any number sunsets and moonbeams -- and a few hookah pipes, wine glasses and pill bottles. The nightly news would have us believe that our economy -- sad, listless, terminal thing -- no longer offers any hope of The Good Life, that we are headed for another great Depression. (And that thought has given everybody great depression.)
Back in the late 80s, I worked for a writer who was born in 1900. She had been a struggling mother with a sick husband during most of the years of the Depression. I asked her once what it had been like to get through it. She laughed and said something like, "Well, we didn't sit around at the dinner table and talk about The Depression. We didn't even know that word. We just had fun and did the best we could. We got by during the bad times, and waited for the good times that eventually came." She was so optimistic, despite many devastating aspects of her life: losing a child to disease, losing a brother and a son in two different wars, losing a home during a hurricane, losing the sight in both eyes, losing her husband to Lou Gehrig's disease. But when I knew her, during the last of her many years, she always said, "This is the good life." And she was right.
I'm sure the little girl in this picture will look back on this time not as the year when the stock market fell apart and the sub prime mortgage crisis instigated a terrible economic downturn. Nope. I'm pretty sure remember it the year she was a princess at her birthday party. The one where she got the biggest pinata she'd ever seen, that spilled out more candy than she could eat.
Now that's The Good Life.