A former colleague of mine passed away last week. It was a heart attack and all very sudden. One minute he was seeing off his wife and children as they went to visit family abroad, the next thing a few days later he was making a final taxi journey where he failed to reach his destination. We weren’t majorly close but we did sit opposite each other for a couple of years prior to him leaving the firm a year ago and I got to know him and his world. He may not have had the healthiest of lifestyles, smoking quite a lot and being a bit overweight, but he still was only in his mid-to-late forties. He even used to joke about my twice a year detox and salad lunches – “you’re going to live a very long and boring life. What’s the point?” he’d laugh. Whether or not there was any irony in it, in a perverse kind of way there was something to be said for his comment. He saw certain acts as depriving yourself of enjoyment, and regardless whether that should apply to living a healthier lifesty;e he certainly seemed to love life. A few years back he took a couple of years out and him and his family moved to New Zealand simply to experience a different reality.
Whenever these kind of events spring themselves I do tend to get a bit more reflective – “why?” and “what’s it all about?”, kind of stuff. It’s only natural to do so, or maybe more so in cultures and environments that focus more heavily on the earthly rewards over the heavenly. I read in a book once that one reason why individuals fear death is because they are not living a life that’s true to them – not living their “dream”, compromising too much, living falsely, living in the never-never and so on.
Whatever the raft of fix-it books might suggest, not everyone can take the big step to achieve some crazy long-held dream. Real-world conditioning tends to bite. And even if they do jump there really is no guarantee of success. We always hear about the success stories but, as they say, history is written by winners and not every attempt will be 'successful' in the way they originally perceived it. Some people just swap one type of unhappiness for another kind of misery. There's absolutely nothing wrong with chasing dreams (and in reality it's definitely desirable to have something to shoot for), but sometimes we really musn't forget about the many joyous things right in front of our noses.