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Nobody Leaves This World with a Thing in Their Pockets

Yesterday I met up with my ninth grade biology teacher for lunch. When you see somebody you haven’t seen for almost 17 years, it makes you really reflect on the fact that life hasn’t gone according to plan. When I think about what I thought my life would look like by now it’s certainly not the picture I had painted as a ninth grader.  There’s been many twists, turns, and curveballs which I haven’t exactly knocked out of the park.

My ninth grade biology teacher was one of the most influential teachers in my life and his class was my favorite in high school. Not only did I enjoy science, I got really good grades.  He went on to become a high school principal and eventually retired. He had been acting in theaters as a hobby, and after his retirement his wife suggested they move to LA and he attempt to get paid acting gigs. Eventually it worked, and he started appearing in movies and now is getting paid to act. Stories like this make you realize that making too many plans for your life limits your potential. You simply can’t predict the future. Needless to say, I was really thrilled to meet him after 17 years.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that my tumultuous career and many other things have been really getting to me lately.  It seems as though you meet people in your life exactly when you need to. After exchanging stories of how we ended up where we had with our lives, my teacher shared a story with me that really opened my eyes.

When he was in high school, he worked at a mortuary. His job was to close caskets after the very last time people were allowed to view the body. Apparently family members, friends, etc, would often try to put money, legal documents, etc in the pockets of the deceased so that nobody else would get them. His job before closing the casket for the final time was to empty the pockets of the deceased.  He told me “You know what I learned at a very early age? Nobody leaves this world with a thing in their pockets.  Since then my life has never been money-centered.” 

For a long time now, I’ve believed in choosing a life made up of experiences instead of one made up of possessions, but I’d never heard it put that way. It caused me to really think about what’s important in life, and it brought this sense of calm  and peace to my mind that I rarely experience when I’m not in the ocean.  Money is something  plays a major role in our lives. We stress about the fact that we don’t have enough. If we do have enough, we’re constantly thinking about how to accumulate more.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the pursuit of wealth. There’s no doubt that it’s better to have money than to be broke or struggling.  But, when you’re able to see it through this lens that you’re going to leave the world without a thing in your pockets,  you can approach the pursuit of wealth in a very different state of mind, one that is much more likely to lead to true wealth.   Class dismissed.

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