Phrases my mother often said come back to me regularly. One of those is living the life of Riley.
What does it mean? If you live the life of Riley, you possess an easy, pleasant life, footloose and fancy free.
When I researched that particular idiom, I learned that, most likely, the saying first originated in the early 1900’s but became a common catchphrase during World War I. Possibly, my mother learned it from her parents, who were married in 1900.
By the 1940’s when my parents married, the expression had become quite popular and actually, The Life of Riley was the title of a radio comedy show, then a film, and finally a television show during the years 1953-58.
Even though I was very young during those years, I do recollect that TV program and the main character, Chester Riley, always remarking, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”
So why does my memory bank divulge this bit of trivia? Two things really. First is a photograph I recently captured of a cat named Bentley. He definitely lives the life of Riley as he’s an indoor cat doted on by his people, our daughter and grandchild.
He lounges around their house, has plenty of food to eat and water to drink, toys to entertain him, windows to watch birds and wildlife outside, comfy spots for napping, loving affection and attention, and opportunities for mischief to achieve. A pretty pleasant life, don’t you think?
And when Papa and I visit their home, he greets us at the door, headbutts us for attention, and then promptly sprawls out on the rug like the photo demonstrates. And he stays that way for a good while.
Just livin’ the life. And getting lazy and fat. Our grandchild’s nicknames for him are either “Fat Boy” or “Handsome Man.”
And that brings me to my second reason “living the life of Riley” came to my mind. Not many of us are living the life of Riley nowadays. Carefree days seem to have come and gone.
Recent events coupled with the virus pandemic and being in the throes of winter – we were socked in with ice yesterday – surely do not make us feel footloose and fancy free.
Some of us are watching what’s occurring around the world and especially in our own nation and thinking, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”
Still, we must search for what’s good about life and embrace that, because even if we’re not living life exactly as we’d like, we still have a life to live.
It’s what we do with this life that matters. How shall we live? With purpose and meaning, persevering however we can to maintain the freedoms we have taken for granted so much in the past.
“Every day, it’s important to ask and answer these questions: ‘What’s good in my life?’ and ‘What needs to be done?’~ Nathaniel Branden