Two words that we can live by: ‘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.