On Ambition: “And Then You Die” (June 29, 2009)

. . .

X     “They don’t tell you that this is what life is all about.  You work hard to get into the right preschool and then work hard to get into the right kindergarten and then work hard to get into the right grammar school and then work hard to get into the right middle school and then work hard to get into the right high school and then work hard to get into the right college and then work hard to get into the right law school and then work hard to get the right judicial clerkship and then work hard to get into the right law firm and then work hard to be a junior associate and then work hard to be a senior associate and then work hard to be a junior partner and then work hard to be a senior partner and then you work hard and then you die.”

Y     “Hardly works for me.  I’m getting out.”

. . .


. . .

G     “I am happy.  What do you mean I’m not happy?”

B     “You’re not happy.”

G     “Who are you to tell me I’m not happy.”

B     “I’m me.  Reminding you that you’re not happy.”

G     “I am happy.”

B     “I once told you that I would never lie.  I never did; I never will.  I am comfortable sitting here playing Carl Rogers.  Isn’t that what you really want.”

G     “No, I want you to tell me I am happy.”

B     “You are happy.”

G     “You’re lying.”

B     “I’m lying.  Keep at least one eye on the road and look at it this way.  We don’t have to play games or maintain fronts.  Our circumstance provides me and even you with tremendous freedom and opportunity.  I am free to offer observations the last guy did not touch after what . . . some eight months. There was no percentage in him being bluntly honest with you.

G     “Or apparently in being honest.”

B     “From what I see, there are only two of us in the car.  You only have to fool yourself and me.  I only have to fool myself and you.  That offers great promise and potential.  Late at night it may dawn on you that I simply do not care to fool me or to fool you.”

G     “Hypothetically, how could I not be happy?  Look at what I’ve done.  Look at what I’ve got.”

B     “Look at this car.  What happened to ‘Small Is Beautiful’.”

G     “This car is beautiful.”

B     “It isn’t efficient.  It isn’t small.  You abound in toys and bound from one diversion to another.  You stay busy and distracted so that you don’t have to pause and reflect.”

G     “No I don’t.  Modern life is busy.  Look at everything I have to do in a day.  You just don’t understand.  I am very successful at what I do.”

B     “You have done well and done good.  Why don’t you keep driving.”

G     “The car? Why? Where?”

B     “Anywhere, somewhere, nowhere.  Why not head West for one hour.  I’ll drive back and you can sleep.  You can saunter through the day tomorrow.  You know there was a time when it was a great joy to watch you breath while you slept.”

G     “To do what exactly?”

B     “Anything, something, nothing.  To stay up past your bedtime.”

G     “That is so irresponsible.  I have to get up early.”

B     “When you are finally honest with yourself, it may be too late.”

G     “Just who are you to tell me whether I am happy.”

B     “I’m me reminding you that you really want to be happy.  And you deserve to be happy.”

. . .

[With a nod to Montaigne’s Essais.]

Bumper stickers of the week:

She who dies with the most toys, . . .

She who dies with the most joys, . . .

Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.  Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.  Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun.                                               Ecclesiastes 9, 7-9

If I had it to do over again, I would go into the office more often.

. . .

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha!  He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.

“The Men Who Don’t Fit In”  The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses © 1940 by Robert W. Service.  (Reprinted without permission which will be sought in due course.)

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