LIFE LINES: Living well is the best revenge


Victoria Sarne


“Living well is the best revenge” is a quote from George Herbert, a 16th century poet. I don’t know what his motive or meaning was, but my interpretation which I apply to my own life is that to do so means making the best of whatever life throws at us, and making it count.

One interpretation could mean living high off the hog with a lavish lifestyle requiring money to spend on expensive habits or acquiring things – cars, houses, clothes, luxurious holidays or entertainment. But those are superficial ‘things’. If you want them and can afford them (key words) and they give you pleasure then go for it. But the word “superficial” is important because although enjoyable, they are not a foundation on which to build a happy and rewarding life. At best, they are an enhancement which may (or in many cases) may not bring you sustained contentment.

My perspective says living well means building a solid base of inner stability making our words deeds and actions congruent so that we are at peace with ourselves and can fashion a balanced life. It means embracing all that life has to offer - for ourselves, our friends and families and reaching out with an open and understanding heart to care for those who may need our attention and compassion; occasionally it means thumbing your nose at the naysayers or people who have set out to hurt you – living well – a harmless way to extract revenge by overcoming adversity and enjoying the journey wherever it takes us.

In my case it has meant and continues to mean extracting the good and the positive from every situation. Even in the hardest of times there is usually a glimmer or a hint of something positive to focus on and no matter how small being able to take away a little nugget of gold. As it would if it were the real thing, it might take some serious digging but worth it in the end.

Having just moved house in the last few days of incredible heat, carting boxes, bits and pieces, and cleaning until I was ready to drop even with the final insult, suffering along with everyone else, yet another power failure. But when all was done, I had two cold showers and felt refreshed. In my book that’s “living well”. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and a car to drive, not all of us have that, fancy or otherwise.

But most of all, the biggest part of my being able to “live well” has been the enormous and priceless gifts of help from friends, old and newer, ranging from messages, phone calls, temporary accommodation to permanent space and gifts of food and wine to celebrate. Their ongoing interest and concern for my well-being has never faltered and I am so very grateful for their kindness, caring and emotional and material support. Because of their actions I am looking out of the window watching the dawn lighten the sky and later will be able to watch as the sun sets on another day, because of them I am sitting here writing this column with the ocean directly in front of my windows. Every time I look up the sea is there to refresh my spirit. In my book, I have everything I need and am living very well.

• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at victoria.conversations@gmail.com, or visit www.lifelineswritingservice.com.


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