Is James Taylor’s “secret of life” true?

Published in 1977, Taylor called this an irreverent spiritual song. He didn’t want to come across with absolute certainty, so he titled the song, Secret O’ Life instead of Secret of Life. But still, his first verse claims:

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”  And if that is true, then:
“But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride. Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down, try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.”

His second verse is even more philosophical:

“Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
Einstein said he could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.”

I’ve spent my guitar playing years learning to play like Taylor. And I enjoy much of his care-free spirited songs. But this song has push-back, maybe even defensiveness about it, that attempts to silence another voice that quietly whispers: “the secret to life is much bigger than your personal enjoyment of it.” I mean, why even make the assertion that this is the secret to life unless there is an irresistible urge to know what life is really all about?

The human race, as Taylor puts it, is a species that has always sought to know how and why we are here, who are we, and what is our place among the spinning planets in space. Here’s some questions: when you are enjoying a sunset over the ocean, a flower garden, a beautiful rendition of a classic, or the mountains and landscapes of the earth, what explains your capacity for enjoyment of things that you did not make? And, why do you often feel the most joy when the event or the environment has nothing to do with you – like watching a glorious sunrise? And finally, why do we still feel unsatisfied, cheated, and even down right angry, when the “end of the ride” comes?

The secret to Life is knowing the giver of Life. To know him who not only explains my existence, but my desire for enjoyment also. We were made to enjoy this life so that we may have some hint that the one who made this life must be unbelievably enjoyable! Our capacity for joy is not a secret – but the purpose of it is. But no longer. It was revealed when Jesus came, was crucified, rose again, ascended, and is coming back for those who have longed to know him who made us to enjoy the giver more than his gifts. Contrary to Mr. Taylor, time is real. You are real. Your desire to live forever, enjoying life is real.

I am enjoying time with family. But I will not come to the end of this enjoyment and glibly muse, “. . . well that was a good ride.” No one does that because no one feels that way about life – not really. We want more – we didn’t want the ride to end – we want . . . . . .

See . . .!


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