The Questions of Life

Former Liverpool architect and author of Cancer 4 Me 5

I appear to have reached a very reflective stage of my life. I see things in my 50’s that I would have viewed altogether differently in my 20’s or 30’s. Many of the things that would have impressed me then seem to have little or no impact on me now. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore what somebody is wearing, or what they drive, or where they live, or who they know.

Everybody is equal on the surface to me now, no matter how they appear.

It is only what is hidden on the inside that makes the real difference between us.

The heart will always outweigh the impression.

Age has given me a sense of wisdom I didn’t have in my youth. And life experience has given me the perspective to see things differently.

Much of our world today is preoccupied with success. And on every page, it puts in front of us who successful people are deemed to be.

In almost all instances the only measures used are position, achievement, and wealth. None of them are poor.

The world leaders of all of the main facets of our society, industry, politics, sport, entertainment, etc. are held up to us as the targets we should be setting for ourselves, and striving to achieve, if we want to be successful.   

But what is success?

Sometimes the simple farmer minding their family and goat herd in the desert is more content than the pressurized millionaire business person.

The millionaire may have money in the bank, but everything else in their life is under strain. Their partner has just left them, their son is in jail and they have become an alcoholic with the pressure.

But because they are the CEO of one of the biggest corporations in the world none of that really matters. All of the business networks will only point to the position and wealth achieved.

That is the person we should all aspire to be.

But arguably the simple farmer in the desert is a happier person.

Are they therefore not more successful?

Happiness is perhaps a better gauge of success than money and power can ever be.

Happiness is perhaps a better gauge of success than money and power can ever be.

LIAM RYAN

But if the definition of success is elusive, happiness seems to be even more obscure. I spent a lot of my early years, like most people, setting out to achieve happiness. Not only did I think it was attainable but even more naively, I thought it would be something permanent. A good education, the right career, a great wife, a loving family, a great place to live and an important job would all be the necessary stepping stones needed to guarantee a definitive final destination.  

I could see the top of the mountain.

What I didn’t realize was there was another ridge beyond it and another beyond that again.

Life, for all of us, will never plateau out. We will always be going uphill.

Being a millionaire will not prevent a sick child, or a broken relationship, or a chronic heart condition, or dementia in old age. 

So almost 60 years later I can now see that the moments of true happiness in my life were just that, moments. Scoring a goal in a big game, passing an important exam, hearing your favourite song at a concert, our wedding day, the birth of your child.

These were some of the peaks in what has largely been a good mountain range.

But they didn’t last.

You are back down to base camp before you know it.

So many things in this world don’t make sense.  For every peak, there are several valleys. War, famine, disease, heartache, loneliness, poverty.  And so in my reflections at this later stage of my life I am left with many unanswered questions.

What is real success and where do we find it?

And if permanent happiness is not to be found here, where does it exist?

It must exist somewhere.

We have all come too far for that not to be the case.

When the dust settles on all my questions, only one thing is left standing before me.

My belief in God.

This world was obviously never the one that was fully intended for us.

It doesn’t have the answers we seek.

Now that I can see more clearly I quietly long for the one that has.

A place where I will no longer have any questions to ask. 

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