BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Let’s face it, the important things in life change with age. It’s really all about perspective. Sometimes those important items come full circle. When you’re born, the most important thing in the world is a female breast. Thirteen to 15 years later, that same priority manifests itself again in males. When you’re three to four years old, not peeing your pants is one of your success standards. About 75 years later that becomes one of your primary successes again. At 12, having friends is an important thing. At 75, having friends that are still alive is an important thing. At 16, it’s having a driver’s license. At 80, it’s still having a driver’s license.
Money, of course, is one of the standard important things, but if you’re lucky, somewhere along the journey you’ll begin to realize that it really can’t buy happiness. Friends and family bring happiness. A sense of purpose and integrity helps along the way.
A couple of the things that, after about the age of 20, remain in constant desire throughout your life, are health and money. The people who argue that money can’t buy happiness don’t have money. But all the cash in the world isn’t worth a dime when the doctor comes into the waiting room with bad news. In the end it isn’t about how much money you left or how important you thought you were – it’s about laughter, and meaning, and love. Somewhere along the line, you have to learn that being powerful and important aren’t important. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.
Eventually, if you’re lucky, you learn that the most important things in life aren’t things at all… The best example I can give you is a line or two by John Lennon: “When I was five years old my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them, they didn’t understand life.”
When we look back at our lives, we realize that most of the things of value we possess weren’t taught to us. They came about through experience, which is the world’s greatest teacher. Don’t major in minor things. Bite off the big chunks, set priorities. Somewhere along the line you’ll realize that life is a continuous process of important moments, and it’s how you deal with those that determines who you are, and who you will be.
We all have a list of important things. When you’re rummaging through yours, here’s hoping that keeping your driver’s license and peeing your pants aren’t too high on the list.