March 28, 2013

The meaning of life

What are you doing with your life? If you are like me you probably work anywhere from 8-14 hours a day to provide a life that you and your family have become addicted to. After all, you went to school to build a career and a better life, right? So you work hard and dedicate yourself to a career your parents would be proud of.

Of course, because of that time spent to build a career and provide for your family, you are unable to see your family for any consistent length of time. It is a paradox that isn't lost on me.

So as time passes you begin wondering how your babies suddenly got so big. Eventually they become kids then teenagers and form a life of their own. As they age they spend more time with their friends and you, as a lifelong absent parent, become a stranger.

You try to reconnect with your kids but they are indifferent. They have grown used to your absence and no longer need your company. A parent-child relationship, while initially strong, fades like a bad marriage.

Soon, or what seems soon, your kids have kids. You are a grandparent. It is time to slow down but you are in the prime of your career. You want to build the relationship with your grandkids that you couldn't with your kids. So you spoil them when you see them. And they ask about you when you are away...but you are away a lot. Like your kids before them, you spend your time working at your 'once in a lifetime opportunity', whatever that may be.

Eventually, your grandkids also grow up to be indifferent to your presence. It is not that they don't like you - they simply don't know you. And while they miss the thought of having a grandparent - a complete family - they know nothing of what a complete family feels like. So while they miss the idea, they don't miss you.

You grow old and eventually retire - due to sickness or age. You have nothing to do and wonder when someone will visit. The family you built and provided for knows nothing of your sacrifice and longing. You did this for them. You did this so you could be something.

But when it comes down to the final hours on your deathbed you regret the sacrifice. You spent your life caring for projects, companies and shareholders that would never care back. None of your former co-workers come to your bedside and you want none of them there.

All you want is the family you missed all your life to be there. In these final moments you finally discover that the reason you are here is to be with your wife and kids. Tragically,  as you lay there dying, the realization comes too late.

Happy Easter everyone.