Sunday, October 20, 2013
at the end of your life...
a few years ago on a trip to Thailand i met a woman named Cris. at least i think this was her name. quite honestly i can't be 100% about it, but her name isn't really of importance. she struck a chord with me. at first she was annoying as all hell but then i heard her story and found myself in awe of her.
a whole bunch of random people i'd never met in my life were together in a tour group over the course of two weeks. eventually i got to know some of them over meals and shared lifetime experiences riding elephants, river rafting on bamboo floats, getting stranded in open waters for hours in the rain, etc. Cris was a nice homey type woman, full of life and excitement about anything and everything. this sounds like a great quality to have but after a few days her excitement was almost irritating to me. i kid you not, after every single meal we'd eaten she'd exclaim "this is the best meal we've had! everything is soooo good!" for one, this could not be true because the food they serve on tours is definitely not the best representation of ethnic foods. it's typically catered towards Americans and are also cheap/affordable versions meant for serving tourists. second, i felt like she was overzealous about every little thing and it was all a bunch of bullshit. she reacted to everything as if there was some enlightenment in something as minor as seeing that the stoplights in Bangkok were fixed horizontally instead of vertically. uhh no, lady. it's not 'amazing,' it's just different. being quite the realist, i couldn't help but to dismiss her joy. her daughter even seemed perturbed by her overly enthusiastic mom, so i knew i wasn't the only one.
even in all of my judgement, i didn't avoid chatting with Cris about surface level things. then one day towards the end of the trip, i suppose she felt like she'd bonded with some of us and discussions got a little deeper. she told us that the reason why she and her daughter were on the trip was to open their eyes to the world and experience things they'd never known before. it was important to them to explore and live every moment as if it were their last. she told us about a tragedy that'd happened a year prior to the trip. her husband and father to the girl was the CFO at a big company and had been laid off. with the drop in his status, he felt powerless and worthless. he committed suicide, never realizing that there was more to life than a work title. as i'd said earlier, Cris was a simple homey woman who's daughter took after her in the same manner. they never required a husband/father to be a powerful man with an enormous salary. they saw him for who he was outside of work, but unfortunately he couldn't see himself in the same light. to him, his title was his being. he very inconsiderately took his life to be at peace, leaving behind an unappreciated family. though she seemed okay, i could hear the pain in the cracks in her voice as she told the story. from that moment in her life forward it was Cris' mission to make sure that she recognized all of the things that life has to offer outside of money. she focused on simply experiencing cultures, having fun with her daughter, and enhancing her life in general. what i initially thought to be overzealous proclamations was actually a coping mechanism she'd adopted to view all aspects of life at it's fullest potential. you can't fault a person for having a glass-is-half-full view on life after having experienced what she did. she wanted her daughter to know that there are far more awesome and valuable things in this world than having a status.
at the end of your life what are you going to be remembered for? what's important to you? the job you did? nope, nobody cares about that. if at the end of my life i accomplish nothing more, i want people to remember me for 1. being a good person, 2. being a great friend and 3. providing some laughter. that's it. that's all that matters.