Let us not forget our extended family.

In 1970, Richard Bach penned “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” the story of a seagull who approached the gift of flight from a different perspective than his other seagull kin. Rather than flying merely to catch food for survival, Jonathan sought to expand his knowledge of flight in search of fulfillment and the ultimate joy found in soaring above the earth. In a way, that search was Jonathan’s pursuit of The Good Life — something he was truly passionate about. If he met other birds along the way who shared that same passion, he considered them his family.

Illustration of Keith Enloe by Adrienne Luther

So, what does family mean when we talk about bon vivants living The Good Life? Certainly, blood relations define family in a literal sense, but when it comes to living a life immersed in those pursuits we deem most pleasurable, family goes way beyond just our kinfolk.

Think about that classy bottle of wine you’ve been saving. Imagine the anticipation of pulling the cork and breathing in that luscious aroma. The sight of that gorgeous color filling the glass. The delightful balance of body, acid, fruit, and tannin coating your mouth. Now imagine that you’re all alone. Nobody there to share that moment. It’s a tragic thought. Those you know would equally share your appreciation and joy in that oenological magic — those people are your family. To the bon vivant, family means partaking in those wonderful pleasures in a shared experience. It’s about those around us who compose a huge family of people sharing common passions.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

 — Richard Bach

Consider the communal power of food. Sharing a special meal is truly an expression of family. The love and labor that goes into the preparation of a meal. The savoring, indulging, exploring the flavors, textures, and artistry of the perfect dish. The almost sacred act of breaking bread together and consuming something we enjoy so much with those whose company we crave. In a time of need or sorrow, the gift of food to a loved one has come to be recognized as an expression of healing and comfort. What could be a better illustration of living well?

Then there’s traveling with family. Whether you’re paying them a visit or going on a new adventure together, traveling allows us to enjoy life in so many ways — culture, art, cuisine, entertainment, history, nature. It reminds us that we’re just a very small part of a much bigger picture and shows us that, in order to live The Good Life, we must take the opportunities to build lasting memories. And when you have fellow companions you’re comfortable traveling with, well, you know they’re like family too. It’s easy to see that when it comes to enjoying the finer things in life, family can go beyond that of blood relation. For bon vivants, family really is being, as Richard Bach wrote, “the joy in each other’s life.”

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