Life is a gift…and an investment

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When you’re broke and struggling for every gasp of oxygen, you say to yourself:

If only I could pay off these bills… if only I had a car that could drive across Iowa without dribbling transmission fluid down Interstate 80… if I could only take a freaking vacation with my wife and family, and have a little time without all this head-splitting pressure… I would be SO HAPPY.

That IS true, for a week or a month or a year.

But if you are anything at all like me, your attention will eventually turn outward.

One of my evolution prize judges is Michael Ruse, who is a slightly famous atheist.

Despite the fact that he is not a religious man, he often cites Jesus’ Parable of the Talents.

In that parable, a master hands out bars of gold to his servants. One gets one bar, one gets two, one gets five. The ones with two and five double their investment, and when the master gets back, he rewards them with more money and responsibility.

But the guy who got one bar of gold was so intimidated by the challenge, he just buried it in the ground to make sure he didn’t lose it.
He hands back his master the one bar of gold… and the master is infuriated. “Give his bar of gold to the one who turned five into ten. Then take this guy behind the woodshed and beat him without mercy. He’s an idiot.”

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The parable ends by saying: “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Michael sees in this story a basic truth: Life is a gift and it’s also an investment. And you are expected to produce a return. If all you do is indulge your own pleasures… you’re worthless.

There’s never a point where you kick back and say to yourself, “I’ve got it made in the shade, man.”

Besides, everyone I know who does that, ends up restless and vaguely frustrated and most end up embroiling themselves in worse problems, bad habits and addictions.

Fifteen years ago, I wasn’t wealthy by any means, but my head was solidly above water. Out of debt. The man’s boot was no longer on my neck.

I had sufficient time, space and resources to travel and get a wider perspective. Once I’d solved my immediate, local problems, once I had enough money to buy the kids shoes, my attention shifted.

I could not stuff my head in a cloud and merrily medicate myself with cars and vacations.

Once my own problems were dealt with, my focus automatically and naturally turned to larger problems in the world.

If the world is in turmoil, yet you’re fat and happy, then… you’re sleepwalking.

Seize the day,


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