What do these words mean to you?
Obviously, they will mean different things to different people.
To most people living in Western countries, it means being rich, the richer, the better. As the saying goes, you can never be too rich or too thin in the current version of our world. Thin people have more sex (except when they are thin because they are sick, of course), and rich people have more of everything (except for common sense, it would seem).
To Mother Theresa, it meant taking care of people with leprosy, AIDS and other diseases. Somehow she managed to be quite happy in her poverty stricken world, while also being very thin and poor. People like this seem to have died out about two decades ago.
To a chief of a tiny tribe in the Amazon jungle, nonchalantly chewing a mind-altering plant while lost in his thoughts swinging in his hammock on a sunny day and enjoying the colors, sounds and scents of the jungle and his peaceful village, living the good life and being happy probably means good weather and enough food for him and everyone in his little village.
What does living a good life mean to this mad patent translator?
Well, I know that I will never be rich, except perhaps in comparison to a few hundred thousand seamstresses in Bangladesh. But I do enjoy a good hunt for inexpensive but very good wines in my price range, a challenge that puts some much needed excitement in my otherwise bland and boring life, and I just discovered Argentinian wines fit this description, and I prefer cheap watches to expensive ones anyway, as long as they keep correct time. It is much safer to have a cheap watch these days – you don’t get mugged for a Timex.
I also know that I will never join the world of incredibly greedy and not terribly bright people who are running our world without seeming to notice or care that they are running it into the ground, and I am quite happy about that.
Since I am no Mother Theresa either, that would perhaps leave the Amazon Indian chief as a model worth following.
But I have my own definition of what living the good life means to me.
Living the good life means having most of the time just enough work and just enough money to do the things that I want to do with the rest of my life, provided that I enjoy, at least for the most part, the work I am doing.
Living good life also means being able to enjoy the sounds, colors and scents of my world, although it is a different kind of jungle than the one the chief in his hammock knows so intimately.
Since I graduated with a degree in Japanese studies 33 years ago, I was able to put Japanese and other languages that I have been studying for more than 4 decades now to good use in a number of interesting jobs.
And since I am putting everything that I have learned and keep learning just about every day to good use now as a freelance patent translator, and hopefully will be able to do so for as long as my brain can process my thoughts and my fingers can find the right words by clicking on the keys on my computer’s keyboard, I harbor no envy for the serenity the man in the hammock must feel as he is watching the sunset and spitting a glob of reddish, greenish or bluish saliva into the green grass on the village green.
Living the good life to me means having the power to say yes when I agree with something, and to say no when I want to say no. Not that many people have this power, but this power is mine, or yours, when you really are a freelance translator in every sense of the word freelance.
The word is composed of two words: free + lance. I will use my lance and fight for anybody (freely, but not for free – I am quite the mercenary when it comes to putting my lance to a fight) who wants me to translate information that could be important for the direction the jungle of our world is likely to follow today or tomorrow. The fights for which I have been using my lance as a freelance translator since 1987 mostly have to do with technology.
When I started my translating career, a portable telephone was a huge, heavy brick that could be used only for making calls. Today, my tiny cell phone can be used to take pictures and make movies, read newspapers, watch TV, find a restaurant and many other things in addition to making a phone call.
In a few years we should be able to use our phone as a portable shower, and who knows, in a few decades we may be able to use our phones for time travel if new technologies keep being developed at such a breakneck speed. Admittedly, much better broadband would be needed for both of these new applications, nothing like the current broadband cemetery sold at inflated prices throughout these United States where Youtube videos go to die.
My contribution to all of these pretty incredible changes, however small it might have been, would be another definition of what the words “living the good life” mean to me.
What do they mean to you?