Justice. If it isn’t right, it shouldn’t happen to you.
Raspberries and Parsley. (There’s at least a book chapter to write about these and why they are meaningful.) Just know that if you feed me raspberries, or better yet let me pick from your patch, I will think I am loved. If you garnish my dinner plate with a sprig of parsley, I WILL eat it and remember very good things of long ago, before the world went bad.
Fresh clean water. All else should be set aside until every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet can drink safe, clean, fresh water every day. If I knew how to feed my family while dedicating my life to this cause I would.
Music. If you know what I mean, I don’t need to explain. If you don’t, I can’t.
Companionship. If I sometimes seem like a loner, it’s probably because I am deeply sad about something. What I really want is being with someone in contexts where expectations are not and quiet togetherness is.
The way of Jesus. Not religion. I have very little patience anymore for most forms of organized religion. The “Way” of which I write is that manner of walking this Earth which embodies truth, respect, justice, mercy, reconciliation, and an absolute absence of disdain. Jesus said and did all sorts of things. They all confront our ways of thinking, some of them are confusing, but in nothing did he ever hold anyone in disdain. I want to live this life in such a way that I never turn up my nose in response to anyone. Even if I profoundly and fundamentally disagree with you.
Alive dirt. Effervescent odoriferous rich organic stain-your-fingernails-black full-of-humus grow-really-great-carrots&corn DIRT.
Eating well. Real food instead of factory-processed stuff. I hate stuff that is so chemically preserved that it doesn’t go stale or get rotten. If a simple bacteria cell can’t live off the stuff, how can I expect my body cells to live?
Teaching and learning. We all learn and we all have something to teach. Let’s get together and trade stories.
Sleep. As in unconscious-in-bed-next-to-my-wife between the hours of midnight and 6:00AM every night. This commodity is increasingly difficult to obtain. It is absolutely incompatible with working night-shift. (God bless those who can work it successfully; I can’t.)
Touch. Without it, infants fail to thrive and they die. Although my heart picked up a “right bundle-branch conduction delay” somewhere along the line, it still has the remnant of that neonatal beat-to-beat variability known in children and adults as a “sinus arrhythmia”. And I’ve never outgrown the need for touch in order to thrive.
Fun! It may take a variety of forms but it is needed.
There are of course other things that have been, are, or will be important. But this is my essential list for now. What’s on your list of “Essentials”?