The Edge Pieces: Part One

As you know, there is no quick, easy way to get a new puzzle started. We’ve got to simply wade into the mess: flip the pieces to the picture side, separate out the edge pieces, maybe consolidate a few obviously related pieces. It’s a process that takes time, but can be, if we are in the right mindset for it, relaxing and satisfying. It’s like a gigantic Mise en Place, with the pièce de résistance being a prêt-à-faire activity that you can sit down and work on whenever you have the time and inclination to do so.

That’s what today and the next two days are for: wading through some suggestions of possible edge pieces for the puzzle that is our life, looking for the words which represent how we want to be remembered.

When my indulgent husband and I defined these virtues, they all meant something very specific, although I will admit that as I peruse them now, some of them do kind of melt together. If two words mean the same thing for you, then skip them. If they are too hoity-toity for you, then skip them. If they are triggers for you, please don’t skip them. Put them on a list of words that, for whatever reason, dredged something up for you.

A word about triggers

The purpose of this exercise is to help you imagine the way you want to be remembered, and eventually, to help you formulate a plan to make that a reality. This exercise is not to serve as a trial in which you serve as defendant, nor is it for you to prosecute a case against anyone.

However, inevitably, certain words will bring up negative thoughts, memories, encounters, humiliations which were no fault of your own. Virtue is often most painfully obvious when it is in the negative, and humans do not tend naturally towards virtue. We have all been face to face with unvirtuous people; likewise, we have all behaved unvirtuously.

First, let me say: I am very, very sorry that you have had painful experiences. Second: please get help. Professional help. There are online counseling services now which are a lifeline of trained professionals who can help you, discreetly, if that is your desire, work through your past.

Triggers are your mind and your heart’s way of sending up warning signals that something painful has gone undealt with in your life. Listen to these triggers. Do not ignore them. Seek help.

Today’s Edge Pieces:

  1. Acceptance: a willingness to receive, with wisdom, the circumstances of our lives, which ultimately manifests itself in the ability to thrive in any situation. (This virtue was previously the subject of a three-part series.)
  2. Affection: the lavishing of a visible, tangible version of Love.
  3. Availability: the liberating of time and attention to the benefit of those we care about. Also known as “put down the damn phone.”
  4. Bravery: the outward consequence of the virtue Courage, the actions inspired by moral fortitude and the ability to overcome one’s fears.
  5. Compassion: the attention to someone else’s needs and the desire and motivation to help provide for those needs.
  6. Contentment: satisfaction with what we own or with our life situation; a simplicity of heart which does not seek out what it cannot or does not have.
  7. Conviction: the certainty that comes with being grounded and convinced of what we believe.
  8. Cooperation: the ability and inclination to work with others towards a common purpose.
  9. Courage: the internal strength to overcome our fears, our past, our weaknesses in order to effect change. Bravery is Courage in action.
  10. Courtesy: a series of small sacrifices which intentionally and respectfully recognize the humanity and worth of other people. (Courtesy was also the subject of a series, here, here, and of course, here.)
  11. Curiosity: the intellectual desire to know about or understand the world around us.
  12. Endurance: like the virtue Perseverance, Endurance is about staying motivated, over time, to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves. Endurance takes the physical toll into account, whereas Perseverance accounts for the mental and spiritual toll of time on motivation.
  13. Enthusiasm: an inexplicable energy which can be a source of motivation and joy.
  14. Determination: the grit, stick-to-it-iveness, and willingness to make the difficult decisions necessary to accomplish a goal.
  15. Discernment: a close relative of the virtue of Wisdom, Discernment is a kind of reliable sixth sense, akin to intuition. It is Wisdom without proof, and is often based on faith.
  16. Discipline: is linked but stands in subtle opposition to the virtue of Self-Control. Self-Control is our capacity to keep ourselves from doing what we don’t want to do, whereas Discipline is our ability to motivate ourselves and keep ourselves on track to actually accomplish what we set out to do.
  17. Discretion: a quiet, non-splashy, minds-their-own-business, unassuming way of living which can be, somewhat paradoxically, an extremely attractive quality in a person.
  18. Fairness: behaving in a way that does not benefit one person or group of people over another; also, seeking and providing ways to even the current playing field for those who have been historically and systemically disadvantaged.
  19. Faith: believing in something that we cannot see, and being certain of its veracity even when it cannot be explained.
  20. Faithfulness: the mindset of staying true to what we believe, to who we love, to who we are, or to the causes we support.
  21. Forgiveness: the decision to cancel any kind of debt–whether financial, emotional, or the debt incurred by harm from another person.

Phew.

That was a lot. I hope you made it through all right.

Did you find a edge piece or two for your puzzle? I did. I want to be remembered for being courageous and determined. I want to be remembered for being enthusiastic and available. I want to be remembered for my discernment and my faith.

Can I be honest? Even as I reread them, I found a few virtues in which I have been sorely lacking lately. This is normal, I know. I myself said the other day:

“We are human, we are not perfect, nor will we ever be…”

Lily Fields, Philosopher Princess

It is significantly easier to recognize where we fail at virtue than to identify where we are doing a passable job at being virtuous. Nonetheless, we need to adjust the lighting, change our lenses, do whatever needs to be done to change our perspective.

How do you want to be remembered?

Up Next:

A closer look at the remaining virtues; then, a fresh reminder that you have gifts, talents and lots of sparkly puzzle pieces potentially buried in your backyard that you may have forgotten about. Those forgotten things…you should maybe think about digging them up, dusting them off, and figuring out where they belong in this giant puzzle that is your Ideal Life.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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