“Why, when I was your age, I walked to school four miles, uphill and downhill, through two feet of snow.”
I received one of those “talks” when I was a child, and I have actually told the story to my daughters that because of the city school that I attended, having no school buses, I actually did walk to school, four miles, up hills and down, and since there were no buses, we had no snow days. I actually even drove my daughters the route I used to walk, just to give them the actual perception.
Of course, one other notable difference between our generations, music. I have finally hit the stage where I will constantly say, today’s music sucks. The singers are no talent hacks pushed by record companies trying to make money off of images of the singers, and not their actual talent. Gone are the days where artists and bands have any kind of longevity. That said, I did get by without my kids being sucked into the Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Post Malone phases.
But on a recent trip, I found myself in an uncomfortable position, stuck next to two other passengers who were discussing their personal and professional interests. Not that I am anti-social, and I do not know many who would argue to the contrary that I actually never shut up, on airplanes, I usually do not have any conversations. These two were half my age, I know because he told her his age, and she told him her age.
Both were young and barely had made their footprints in the working world. They both seemed driven. He was in his first year of law school, excited to have his Summer employment lined up, something he said was not very easy for a first year law student. She was a former nurse, now pursuing a career in the insurance industry.
It was a short flight, but they talked a lot, non-stop. There was no need for me to be involved with their conversation. But it got to a point, where I really wanted to. I did not.
You see, for being so young, and honestly, I think they both seemed quite intelligent, and definitely determined, I could not feel worse for them. It is one thing to strive for success, and there is not doubt, they both had that ability, but it was going to come at a price. They just did not realize it.
Again, I did not interrupt. But what I heard, actually made me sad.
She was a mother of a young child, recently married to someone in the military. She complained to the young gentleman, that she used to be a nurse, but grew tired of having to wait for her relief to come in at the end of her shift. So, she chose to enter the world of selling life insurance. The downside, she is now missing things involving her daughter as her current career has her travelling, and an employer who does not look favorably on family people.
He had a girlfriend, but had no interest in getting married, focused on law school. He was not sure what area of law he was going to get into, but felt litigation was his strong suit.
Both of them, had been talking back in forth, about their drive for success, in the here and now. There was no long term conversations about family, retirement, or something else.
I was less than five years younger than both of them when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Prior to that diagnosis, I appeared to have a career in business management, months away from getting married. I was clearly only thinking about the “moment.” And in an instant, with just three words, “you have cancer,” everything changed. My life changed forever at that point. And now, divorced (for the second time), with children involved, early on, I missed a lot in their lives, that I cannot get back.
I do not want you to think I am judging their decisions, but as I have seen often before, they are definitely missing the big picture. Keeping a perspective on what should really matter to each of them. All the money in the world, the most powerful title in a company, cannot replace what you gave up. Memories cannot be gotten back.