If the pandemic with its lockdowns and social (life) barriers , has taught us anything, at least: 1) we humans have very limited control ultimately, 2) if my life is to be purposeful, what needs to be added/subtracted? Or am I here just to travel to as many places as possible, eat every imaginable form/type of food, be with as many partners as humanly possible, or

----------------- fill in your own blanks.?

Eat, drink and be merry —the Epicurean mantra--doesn’t end there. It continues, ”for tomorrow we die.”

If you plan on living longer than tomorrow,....

In the past 1 1/2 yrs, many more have died than perhaps ever in history. For we the living, our choices include 1–what life lessons may I learn from the suffering of others? 2–must pain and suffering visit me to teach me the lessons that caring and humility and appreciation for the plight of others might teach?

That these are the times that try (test) our souls is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Will we pass the test or fall (remain) in the throes of the ‘insane’ behavior patterns that propel us from emergency to emergency, from lightness to darkness, from God to something much less?

Not only are the choices ours—whether we like it or not—but they are inexorable meaning they stay with us until the lessons are learned.

Were I truly dedicated to slaying my demons, I would persist until they are buried. The reward is everlasting peace, prosperity and purpose—or at the very least, something akin to happiness here and now.

Those are not easy concepts to grasp as many of us experience such conditions so rarely, if at all. That is where FAITH enters the picture.

“Faith is to believe in what we do not see. The reward is to see what we believe," wrote St. Augustine.

The punishment or, shall we say, the downside of bad choices is continued imprisonment in the cages of self-delusion, self sabotage and a dearth of self satisfaction and selflessness. Think of it. Dream not of sandy beaches but of fulfillment of your true purpose for being here, fulfilling the opportunities the miracle of your birth has bestowed on you.

Failure to do this continues our journey on the hamster wheel of life, expecting different outcomes to the same behaviors (a central tenet of the worlds of the addictive and mentally disturbed behavior.

Or are the hamsters simply exercising? To ponder on this is Swadhyaya. To dismiss or ignore this is like chewing bubble gum—good jaw exercise perhaps, but little for our minds and hearts to sink their teeth into—(if our minds and hearts had teeth, of course).

Chew on that for awhile, while your teeth are still yours.