Too Busy for Finding Purpose in Life
When I took my annual golfing pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach this past March, I played a couple rounds with a friend “Bob”. Since I only see him once or twice a year, I asked Bob “how is everything?”, he said, “I am so busy; but don’t ask me what I do all day, I have no idea”.
Bob’s Package – Bob retired a while back after a long and very successful career in financial services. He had an undergraduate and MBA from two of the finest universities in the US. People looked up to him, and he mentored a number of folks along the way. But one day, he wasn’t needed anymore by the new management, so he got a severance package. Bob was in his fifties. He kept getting a nice paycheck for a few years, as long as he did not work for a competitor. Bob thought he might get back into the industry some day, so he never made any concrete plans. Bob never got asked back into the industry – he was “getting old and a little rusty”. He kind of just “got retired”. That was 10 years ago.
Bob’s a Builder – At first, since he was a handy guy, Bob started doing a number of long-delayed house projects. He even bought a beautiful second home by a lake – and promptly gave himself many more projects. Time flew by – three years of “not working”. He never once thought of this skill as income producing work – just projects for him and his family. Since he used to make a very nice living, and was drawing a handsome paycheck in his “early retirement”, he just let life’s little chores keep him busy.
Bob’s a Blackjack player – A man can only do so many projects. There is a famous casino about two hour’s drive from Bob. Far enough to make it a day trip, but not so close to drive there everyday. He likes the skill of the game and knows when to fold ’em. He made a promise to keep a certain amount of money in the bank, so his wife would always feel safe. So far, he has kept that promise. I worry how disciplined he can stay. Bob doesn’t worry, he’s too busy.
Bob’s not a “Cause” guy – Bob and I have a mutual friend who is heavily involved with the Armenian church (their families survived the Armenian Genocide). He tries to get Bob to participate. Bob makes a donation or two, attends the Armenian church and plays in an annual golf event to fund Armenian causes, but he doesn’t go deeper than that – he sees no purpose in digging up the past. Besides, he’s too busy.
Bob’s IRA – Bob tells a funny story about the “self-directed IRA” that was popular for a time. He calls that his self-destructive IRA, since he managed to blow most of it on non-traditional investment vehicles. He had the time to do this, because he was retired after all. He still had money outside of this IRA, so he never worried. He’s too busy to spend a lot of time trading stocks all day.
Bob’s Genes – Since the men in his family have tended not to live too long, Bob hasn’t focused on his health. He also started collecting Social Security at 62, figuring he’ll leave more money to his wife that way. He could focus on losing weight, exercising, maybe just a regular run or a bike ride. Bob says he too busy for all that.
Bob’s not Finding Purpose in Life, Ever – To this day, despite my occasional conversations with Bob, he has shown no interest in expanding his awareness of life, or its meaning, or even generating a sense of purpose. He seems to just float along – kind of like Forrest Gump (minus the Hollywood millions). Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t there be more to life than home repair, blackjack, golf, running errands, making a few donations, and trading stocks from time to time?
Maybe there’s hope for Bob– It’s possible Bob will experience an event that will shake him loose (not a tragedy of course), make him see that ‘time is a wasting’. He is still relatively young and can create a framework for a purposeful life that will keep him plenty busy and give him the opportunity to leave a legacy beyond some cash in the bank. I don’t think Bob’s too busy for that; a man can hope can’t he?