We all hear bed time stories telling tales about strangers in the woods coming upon a dark, gloomy castle, where they brave a daring battle in which
they save a kingdom and rule the lands for the rest of their lives... or the princess that was rescued from her awful family by a prince, or the
orphan who found out that he actually was the heir of a fortune. These are stories with morals, stories that warm our hearts and tell us that
everything does turn out alright.
But are they really true?
Let me tell you a story about a friend of mine. His name is Dave. He says he has experienced every lesson life has to teach, and he is all the worse
for it. Now, usually when you experience all of life, you retire a man of no regrets...right? What could life possibly have done to render this friend
of mine so bitter?
He told me the story of his life...why he is now heavy of heart and light of pocket.
When Dave was a child, he had the same dreams as every American child. Become a policeman, a doctor, a firefighter, a politician, a scientist...all of
those well-paying dreams that end up with everyone loving you, and you dying a very comfortable and content person. Dave always was a likeable person
growing up. But just as any man or woman at such a tender age, he was vain.
His first pursuit of choice (quite understandably, given his fiery blood and youthful vigor) was pleasure. Oh, the women were abundant in those years.
He had any pick, any choice. Waking up in the morning with only one face smiling at him was a loss, in his mind. He set out to conquer as many females
as he could, drink as much wine as his stomach could stand, and enjoy cigars until they grew out of him. His was a life of luxury. But he began to
notice, as with each day came another face, and with each morning it went, that these things were nowhere near as fulfilling as he had hoped. The
people he lounged with had begun to lose touch with reality, their minds slipping out of focus as they lost sight of sanity. The very things that had
relaxed them, it occurred to him, were also poisoning them. Not just their bodies, but their hearts. They created a hole that couldn't be filled. They
lasted for a moment, and were gone. Even after a few days, the exotic smells would fade, and he had naught but memories.
And so, he decided that outrageous pleasure was a thing of the past. What was he to do that would bring value to his life? Ah, yes. Money! He would
As I have said, he was a man of great charisma and charm. Ladies threw themselves at him, and men were always eager to make his acquaintance. Finding
himself an employment opportunity was as easy as picking a flower in the Queen's garden...though not nearly as dangerous. He had quite the
mathematical talent, and so he began to work as an accountant with one of the wealthiest banks in the country. As he made friends with the employees,
he rose through the ranks: he was fresh, witty, comedic, and insightful...and best of all, meticulously accurate. Everything one could want in a
manager of their funds. His wallet grew...and grew...and grew. He was rolling in money, and he was happy.
One day, he found a weary, dirty little girl standing by a road, and he walked up to the child. The child told him, upon his inquiry, that she was
cold, hungry, and frightened. He asked what he could do, and said he had a little to spare if she needed to buy some food. To his astonishment, she
said that she didn't want food. She wanted her mother and brother to be alive again. This disturbed him greatly, as all of the money in the world
cannot restore a dead body to life. What did they die from? he asks. She looked at him with large, sad eyes. The flu, she answered.
As he walked home, he wondered to himself, "How on earth can I help the sick?" He had the funds to become a doctor, but he didn't want to walk 6 years
before even beginning to cure the sick. He could afford to send a generous donation to the hospital, but he wanted to change many hospitals, not just
one. He needed to change policy. And just like that, he had an idea.
He would become a Congressman!
He had the money and the charm, so his success was obviously a foregone conclusion. Fame was his to take by the hand and frolick in the meadow with,
should he desire. And because, despite his advancing age of 40, he was so very vain...he though fame was the way to get the message out. Cure the
sick! Abolish all illness! The crowds went wild over his message. And once he obtained the office he sought, he had all the tools he could want, right
at his feet. With a snap of his fingers, secretaries and aides would bustle back and forth, showing him the forms and bills that needed reviewing and
signing. And as he labored, week after week, it began to dawn on him.
The health system was so immensely complicated, with various officials warning him away from making amendments to bills that would guarantee health
reform, he wondered if it were even possible. Even worse, he wondered if perhaps the whole system was against the people it was sworn to protect. The
sheer possibility terrified him. To make matters worse, his promises came back to haunt him, and the citizens taunted and sneered, accusing him of the
same lies as his fellow politicians. Depressed by the corruption and discouraged by the poor faith of the people, Dave decided to step down.
And with his fame, went his money.
Having seen the worst of pleasure, wealth, and fame, Dave decided to try something simpler, yet infinitely more valuable. He had had many women in his
life...but never once had he fallen in love. And with sich a down-trodden ticker of his own, he needed something to cheer him up. Something genuine.
For several years, he searched...and finally, he found Alyssa. Alyssa was everything he had ever wanted in a woman. They married, but never had
children. Nevertheless, they were gloriously, deliriously happy together. Until one day...the news arrived.
She had cancer.
Those last months were nothing short of excruciating pain. It was the kind of pain that devours your soul and leaves an empty void in its place. The
death of meaning, of direction. It was as dark and grim as forgetting who you are. Dave had never before loved something as he had loved Alyssa, and
the loss of it was tearing him in two. As she breathed her last breath, he felt some part of him give way, something just shatter. To this day, he
doesn't know what it was. Perhaps hope, perhaps defiance, maybe some belief that life was kinder than he hoped. Some distant whimsical part of him
dares to imagine it might have been his soul. But whatever it was...it shattered and drifted away. He has never reclaimed that little piece.
And so, having experienced the pains of pleasure, wealth, fame, and love, he thought back to pleasure, and thought of how it has poisoned him. He had
escaped, true; but even so, he had been inexorably drawn into each of these other traps...these curses, the curses of man. He has watched dear friends
join him in the mad escapade of filling the hole that each trap leaves behind, growing wider and deeper with each fad. The impulse to fulfill fleshly
desires for the stimulating rush of sensation; the need to acquire wealth so as to never go without; the temptation to rise above others, and claim a
place of station and regard, despite the inevitable decline in public favor; And lastly, the irresistible pull to love another human soul, and bond
yourself to the well-being of a fellow person. They had all brought pain, and as Dave reflected on this, he remembered that little girl's family, and
And he began to wonder about death. Yes, death was all he wanted now, all he could wait for, the last gift life had to offer. And to this day, it
causes him agony...for all of his pondering and probing, he has yet to find any consequence within death. He has yet to find anyway death can cause
one pain. One reason to regret leaving this world. And that's why he lives in misery now...everything he has had in his life, has brought him pain.
And the one thing that he knows will bring nothing but peace, has never been his to buy nor charm. He waits on death now, and will keep waiting. It is
all he waits for. In all of his life, he has made not one iota of difference, for he has sought exactly what every other man has sought. He never
chose another path, nor desired another prize. He never followed any roads that made his life worth living. That is what he regrets most - always
ignoring the chance to live, always fighting to survive. The rat race was his to own, but it was a losing battle. He knows that now.
And this, my friends, is the one thing he regrets most in life. Doing exactly what everyone else did, and nothing that has not been done before. His
one message, one lesson, should you ever meet him, is this:
"If it has been done before, keep thinking. No man will thank you for building a mousetrap. But he will thank you for building a mouse that catches
Such wisdom, but far too late. Now, he has nothing but ticking time and bitter regret. When your time comes, what will you have?
15-2-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)