My wife turns to me and says, “The world has gone crazy. Why can’t people just let other people live.” So, I turn to her and say, “This isn’t new. It’s gone on forever. I’ve thought a lot about it and believe it or not, I finally figured out why.”
Now I’ve got her attention. I know at this point my answer better be good. She’s looking right at me.
I continue, “You see, it all started when we were very young and our parents told us the story about this wonderful world we all live in and why we are here, as if they knew why we are here. But they don’t. It’s just a story they made up so kids wouldn’t be scared by the truth.”
She is still looking right at me, so I continue.
“And the truth is– the thing nobody wants to talk about even after they grow up– the real elephant in the room every moment of everyone’s life—is the fact that none of us know why the hell we are here. So, we grow up, and gradually figure out the truth and then we run around with this feeling all bottled up inside until one moment when we’re sitting in a crowd somewhere and without realizing it we get up and walk across the room and slap someone who doesn’t deserve it. Or, if we happen to have a little power, we invade our neighbor’s country. The fact is we don’t know what we are doing, and either we are going to kill some one or not.”
Now, at this point I have my wife laughing. So that’s a good thing.
Later I come downstairs and she’s talking to the dog. She tells the dog, “I know you are upset because we left you down here all alone for too long.” You see, our dog who is twelve years old has never been able to kick his separation anxiety. When we leave him alone for more than an hour he starts to drool over everything in the house. Or he tips over the garbage can and spreads the garbage all through the house. I look at my wife as she comforts the dog and think to myself, “the dog doesn’t know why he is here either.”
So, what should we do? I’ve heard that figuring out the root of a problem is half-way to the solution. I found an 8-minute video on the internet by Elon Musk and sent it to my kids and wife. In the video Musk says, “Life can’t be just about solving problems. There has to be things people find inspiring that make life worth living.”
Musk also says in the video you have to work super hard, like 100 hours a week. My daughter replied that she found the video thought provoking and inspiring and it made her smile. I expected that because she works 100 hours a week like me. My son replied saying Elon has some pretty revolutionary ideas for the next few decades and that it should be an interesting ride if he hits his goals.
So, what’s the answer? I wish I could tell you that. But if I did you probably would think it’s just another story like the one your parents told you. You have to figure out the answer for yourself. Musk ends his talk by telling a graduating class that now is the time to take risks, and do something bold because it’s going to get tougher when you get older.
I don’t know about that. The older I get the bolder I get. But I hope I don’t get to the point where I find myself slapping someone across the face whether they deserve it or not. But you better watch out for us old people. We don’t have as much to lose.