Last week was a rough one for me.
I woke up on Monday morning with a severe case of vertigo.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
The room was spinning so fast, and it didn’t take long for me to start freaking out.
I had no idea what was going on.
I managed to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen where I attempted to sit down, but ended up losing my balance and falling over.
I really thought that something terrible was about to happen. I thought I was about to die. And as most folks do in such situations, I quickly started evaluating my life. Getting somewhat philosophical, if you will.
Has my life had purpose?
Have I offered any positive contributions to my community?
Have I offered any real value to society?
Have I offered value to my friends, co-workers, colleagues, and you, as well?
I have close to 50 years on me, and I’m now looking back on nearly five decades, questioning whether or not I’m content or satisfied with what I’ve learned, what I’ve offered, and what I’ve contributed to the world.
Yes, these are big philosophical questions, and questions that I probably haven’t pondered since my college days. Back when books and teachers and peers challenged my limited world view, and schooled me and exposed me to new worlds and ideas that ultimately made me the person I am today.
For better or worse, I’m content with the person I am today.
But is that enough?
If someone were to ask you at age 16, whether you’d like your life to be considered one of contentment or one of great joy and extreme fulfillment, which would you choose?
Sitting here today at my laptop, typing out these words, I’m forcing myself to face this question.
Am I truly happy and fulfilled? And if not, then why?
Truth is, I have no reason to complain.
I have an amazing family, great friends, and a job I absolutely love.
You know, I watched my father work two jobs for most of his working life. And I can tell you, the man never looked forward to going to work. As far as I know, anyway.
I don’t think he ever liked his jobs, but he had a responsibility to take care of his family. He needed a paycheck, and didn’t have the privilege of time or inherited wealth that would’ve allowed him the opportunity to pursue any kind of real passion. Yet, without much in the way of complaining, he took his responsibility to his family very seriously. And despite spending more than 40 years working jobs he didn’t enjoy, he sucked it up so that his kids could have a good life. I believe that he sacrificed his happiness so that I could have certain advantages he never had: a stable home, a safe neighborhood in which to grow up, and a world where I never had to worry about having a roof over my head or food on the table.
Both my parents worked their asses off so I could have a good life. And yet here I am, questioning the value of this amazing life I’ve been gifted.
Honestly, I feel pretty shitty even talking about it. How unappreciative I must sound. The fact that I even have the privilege of questioning the value of my existence is because of what my parents did for me.
Of course, it doesn’t take a near death experience (or perceived near death experience), to be forced to confront our lives, goals, and purpose …