Two words that we can live by: ‘Take care’

The Community Connection - - OPINION - John C. Mor­gan Colum­nist John C. Mor­gan is a writer and ethics teacher. He can be reached at dr­johnc­mor­gan@ya­

“Take Care.”

These words were ca­su­ally spo­ken as I left the room. It took a few steps be­fore I stopped and asked my­self what the speaker meant.

Was it just a way of say­ing good­bye, so nat­u­ral that no one thought much about them? Or were the words ut­tered with a real sense of im­por­tance I should heed?

I knew I had heard these words spo­ken thou­sands of time. I had used them my­self with­out a thought as to their mean­ing.

The more I thought about these two words, the more lay­ers of mean­ing they took on, like a poem with mul­ti­ple lay­ers, some meant to stop me in my tracks and pay at­ten­tion.

So I de­cided to treat them like a poem and un­pack the lay­ers.

First, take the de­part­ing words se­ri­ously. Maybe the speaker re­ally was con­cerned about well­be­ing in a very dan­ger­ous world.

No, it was not a warn­ing, but more like a wish for that I treat my­self kindly in a world that won’t do the job for me.

Self-care is the be­gin­ning of wis­dom and it is not self­ish. If you don’t care for your­self it’s un­like any­one else will.

Self-care means tak­ing care of your body and spirit, tak­ing time to slow down in the midst of a busy life and not pol­lut­ing your body with smoke, ex­ces­sive eat­ing or drink­ing.

The body is the tem­ple in which your spirit dwells.

So, self-care also means spend­ing time qui­etly, tak­ing a walk, or sim­ply lis­ten­ing to a friend.

Sec­ond, take care also means pay­ing at­ten­tion to those clos­est, fam­ily and friends, not tak­ing them for granted but hon­or­ing their pres­ences in your life. It’s not mor­bid to con­sider the brevity of life and how soon it passes. As the say­ing goes, “one day at a time.” So take the day to take care of those you love.

Third, take care might also cast a wider net.

It could mean to take care of the earth upon which you and bil­lions of oth­ers live.

We are con­nected one to an­other by an in­vis­i­ble web of life, upon which we de­pend.

As the Chi­nese proverb says: “The mir­a­cle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the wa­ter, but to walk on the earth.”

Aristotle said that liv­ing well is learn­ing how to adopt eth­i­cal prac­tices that ben­e­fit not only you but oth­ers around you.

So here is one to try: Each morn­ing when you wake up say to your­self, “take care,” and do that the rest of the day. And when you go to bed, re­peat the same words and ask your­self whether you have to care for your­self, those you love, and the planet it­self.

Car­ing can be sim­ple. It can be re­minder you give your­self to take a needed break or a few kind to some­one who is strug­gling with life or pick­ing up trash tossed on the ground.

Take care is an­other way to ex­press a uni­ver­sal truth ex­pressed in many cul­tures and times:

Treat oth­ers as you wish to be treated.

It’s called the Golden Rule be­cause it brings riches deeper than money or fame.

If enough of us take the time to live the Golden Rule and not just talk about it, we might yet keep life whole and healthy.

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