October 2, 2012
The Fog of Life
There is a story I recently read of an old man who saved for many years to go on a once in a lifetime cruise. His family was from the old country of
and he wanted to experience his homeland. He came from meager beginnings and had been conditioned his whole life to accept the fact that there should always be limitations on his dreams. Greece
While on the cruise he spent all of his time in his small cabin. He read books and ate the food he had brought with him. He had filled up his suitcase with tins of sausage and cheese and he was carefully rationing it to make sure that he had enough. He determined before he left that he was going to bring his own food to save money.
At night he would venture out into the hall and watch people as they walked by in their best clothes, on their way to a show or party that was being held somewhere on the enormous boat. All the while he would be thinking to himself how ridiculous those people were for spending their money so recklessly.
When the boat would pull into port cities he would periodically go up on deck to take a look but never venture off of the boat. He was determined to use his money wisely and not spend it on frivolous things.
On the final night of the cruise there was one last party the cruise line was hosting to celebrate their safe voyage. A young steward knocked on the old mans door and kindly inquired, “Are you going to be attending the party tonight?”
The old man quickly retorted, “Oh no, I could never afford to do that!”
“But sir, you already paid for it as part of your ticket price,” Responded the steward.
“You mean to tell me that I paid for that when I paid to take this voyage?” The old man responded incredulously.
“Yes Sir. You paid for this party, all of the meals on the cruise, all of the fabulous shows and activities the cruise line offers, and safe transport into each city we have visited.” The steward said empathetically knowing that the old man had not enjoyed any of those experiences that he had paid for.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?!” The old man asked angrily.
“Sir, you earned the money to take this trip. You paid for the ticket. We assumed that you would take the time to read the information that we gave you describing what this trip offers.” The steward said gingerly.
The old man stepped back into his room and slowly closed the door knowing that he had squandered his once in a lifetime trip.
How many of us look at life through the same prism, telling ourselves that as soon as we accomplish that one last task we will enjoy the fruits of our labor? How many of us tell ourselves that tomorrow is going to be different? How many of us reject the happiness that we have already earned because we are already trapped by the next challenge we are facing?
Life is full of daily challenges for all of us. It always has been and it always will be. That’s just life. People who do not let life’s challenges define them find true happiness in the moment. We earn the right to be happy by doing the best we can do. We earn the right to be happy by not taking ourselves to seriously. We earn the right to be happy by being content with what we have today and not comparing ourselves to anyone else.
Take a moment and enjoy the sunset, snuggle up with your kids and watch a movie or spend time with the one you love. Those are all small gifts that are much more important then worrying about things we can’t control. Start fresh, free from the fog of life.