The curse of being human, interesting title, what could it be?
This is a topic I have been thinking about for a while now.
Here’s the story:
There once was a man who had nothing. He had no friends or family. He lived on the streets and struggled to get by. By day, he begged for change to feed himself and by night he had to compete with other homeless people to get a roof over his head. This man’s life was a vicious cycle, he couldn’t see a way out and he wished for nothing more than to be given the smallest of opportunities, anything that would provide him with a ray of hope and a chance to live somewhat of a normal life.
Despite his situation, this man survived each day and woke up the next morning to do it all again. One summers evening, the man found a bench near the side of a river where he planned to spend the night. He sat in silence and watched the sun go down, the sun’s rays reflected across the water. As the man continued to watch the world go by around him, he noticed something very strange. He felt at peace. His mind was silent. The he, who earlier that day was worrying about where he would be sleeping, was gone. Who was that he anyway? This man could not hear him now. He just watched. Everything was okay. Everything was exactly how it should be. For the briefest of moments this mans perception twisted and blended with the perception of those things he watched. This was it. This was everything. He was happy.
Hours later, it was dark out now and the man had ungracefully fallen back into his old patterns of thinking. He wanted to sleep but he was cold and he was hungry. He was already dreading having to do it all again tomorrow. The man closed his eyes and wished for a miracle. He was going to find a job tomorrow, he wanted a job more than anything else in the world.
The next day, when the man awoke, he felt a strange sense of optimism. He gathered his few belongings and began his daily search for a job.
Two hours later. The man had been offered a job working in a small outside cafe’ in a nearby park. Not only this but the owner of the elderly manager of the cafe’ had also agreed to put the man up in an unoccupied nearby apartment he owned, rent free until the man had earned his first paycheck and was able to afford the rent. The man couldn’t believe his luck. Finally, after all this time he had a glimpse of hope.
For the first couple of months in his new job the man worked as hard as he could. He was extremely grateful to the manager and the opportunity he had been given. To have a guaranteed roof over his head, food on his table and the means to take a hot shower was a blessing.
However, as time passed, the man slowly became accustomed to his new way of life. He didn’t appreciate the stability as much anymore and the long hours he was working started to bother him more and more. The manager was often snappy with him, telling him what to do and the customers were rude to him. The man knew he owed the manager but at the same time he didn’t appreciate being treated with no respect.
The man secretly began looking for another job. He wanted something that required less work and paid more money. He had a little saved up and could afford to search around. Within two weeks he managed to land himself a sales job in a cosy office.
This new job was great. His wage was way higher and he could afford a nicer apartment. He even had a spare bedroom! This new job was also way more enjoyable, he enjoyed selling and his co-workers treated him as part of the team.
As a year went by it became clear to the man that he had a natural knack for sales. He was constantly beating out the competition to become the top salesman of the month and his bosses loved him because he was bringing in so much money for the company. He was even able to afford a new car. However, the man wasn’t stupid and he realised that he was getting a tiny fraction of the money he was bringing in while he bosses were pocketing the clear majority of it.
Every day when he drove into work he noticed the luxury sports car belonging to the company owner parked in a reserved parking space while him and his basic car had to compete for a space. It wasn’t fair. He was bringing in all the money, why wasn’t he profiting from his own work.
Eventually, the man had enough and decided to mutiny from the company along with several other employees to setup his own business. This way he would get out of his work exactly what he put into his work and he would be rewarded the compensation he deserved for his efforts.
Setting up the new company wasn’t easy but the man had the talent and the work ethic. After five years in business the man’s company was valued at over ten million dollars. He had finally done it. He was richer than he could have ever imagined, he was well respected by everyone and had the freedom to do whatever he wanted.
He travelled the world on business, ate out in fancy restaurants every night and even got himself a newer model of one of those sports cars his previous boss had owned. This was it. He was living the high life.
However, something was still missing. What was this uneasy feeling his was experiencing?
Most of the people he was working with were married and/or had children. They had family, something that the man had never really known. That must be it, he thought, the final ingredient. He needed to find a partner and have children. He wanted to share his wealth and success with a family. He wanted children who could take over the company he had built when he was eventually forced to retire.
Dating life was difficult, he had high expectations and wasn’t going to rest until he had found the perfect partner. Why couldn’t things just be simple. It started to bother the man, was he going to be alone forever? He began to find himself not being able to sleep at night. He has achieved so much and yet he couldn’t seem to find a wife that was right for him.
He was close to giving up when one fateful day he met the woman of his dreams. He liked her and she liked him and within six months they were married.
A couple of years later and they had two healthy children who the man loved, they were the best thing to ever happen to him. He knew that one day that they would take the control of the company, he could enjoy his blissful retirement and everything would be in it’s rightful place.
Many more years passed and as his children grew into adults they became everything he thought they would be. They were intelligent and hardworking just like him. On the man’s 70th birthday, his wish was finally fulfilled as he passed the company onto his children and moved into retirement.
Retirement life was the best. This was the first time in the man’s adult life that he had the time, the money and no responsibilities. He could enjoy life in whatever way he pleased. And he did, for several years…
Then one day while relaxing on a beach in the Caribbean, the man, now in his mid-70’s, began to feel that feeling he has felt so many times before.
The irritation that had kept him up a night.
The noise inside his head.
The lack of fulfilment that had been there all along.
It didn’t make sense.
He had everything. There was nothing more he wanted. He quite literally couldn’t think of anything else.
What was the problem? He couldn’t put it into words.
It was just there and it wouldn’t go away.
The man blinked.
He was in a hospital bed. His family were gathered around. He was having trouble breathing now.
In a way he was relieved.
This existence is fundamentally flawed, he still didn’t understand it.
Then, as he took his final breath and closed his eyes. He felt it once again.
The sun’s rays reflected across the river.
He was sitting on that bench. He was happy.