What is The Good Life?
Seeing that Ray was already touching on the Good Life question, I asked him specifically what he thought made up the Good Life.
“It’s funny that you mention that. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately – a journalist is writing my biography, and he asked me how I wanted him to end the book. I thought about how I wanted others to remember my life, and I want the book to end here,” he said pointing to the restaurant. “This is where I feel most content. This is a place where I feel at home. They all know me by name here.” He motioned toward the tall palm trees that lined the picturesque Los Angeles street in the distance. “This is a place where I’m able to enjoy good food and good weather. It’s the place where we go to celebrate things like my children’s baptisms. It’s also a place I can talk business, or a place I can relax and enjoy a glass of my own wine.”
His emphasis on the word “home” stuck out to me, partly because home has always been something that has characterized my Good Life. “What do you mean by home?”
“Just a place where I can feel at peace with myself.” Ray then went on to explain his physical home. It is a five-bedroom home that was located nearby. He admitted that is was nice and had more space than he needed, but it was far less extravagant than many of the homes in the area. Even though I am sure he could have afforded a mansion in Bel Air or Beverly Hills, Ray seems to be the type that does not depend on having extra luxuries or outward signs of success. Ray’s focus on moderation helps him to be content with what he has and not got caught up in the endless cycle of wanting more.
You Gotta Love What You Do
Knowing that he had the unique perspective of being a professional athlete, I asked Ray what he has most enjoyed accomplishing through his careers. I was expecting him to mention wining the champion belt that eluded his father, but he admitted that he did not have a “favorite” career. He has loved all the things he has been able to do throughout his life. This is why he says that in order to have the Good Life, you have to learn to love what you do. He admitted that you do not have to been involved in multiple projects and careers like himself, but you do need to find some way to become passionate about where you are spending your time.
When I have talked to others who are Ray’s age about the Good Life, they talk a lot about the past, mentioning times when they were healthier, or more in love, or more excited about their future. Ray’s answer, however, did not have anything to do with past (even though his story of fame is one most envy). Instead, his Good Life is about enjoying the present in moderation so that it will him to enjoy his future in areas such as family, friends, film projects, side businesses, going to his church on Sundays, and enjoying a glass of wine with good Italian food. For Ray, he says all these great things which make up his Good Life are connected with his favorite restaurant that he visits each day.
Though Ray did not go into deep philosophical questions about the Good Life, he surely “hit on the nose” of the major topics echoed by others in this book; themes such as family, moderation, pursuing your passion, intellectual curiosity, taking time to enjoy what you have, and pursuing something that is higher than yourself. The future chapters of this book will highlight these themes and expand on them by showcasing the lives of others who have a unique perspective on them.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.
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