Tragedy, Money, & the Good Things in Life

A co-worker and friend passed away much too soon at the age of 35 this past week from a pulmonary embolism (blood clot). Seeing the outpouring of love and support from friends and family has been life-changing. He touched hundreds, if not thousands of people with his kindness, selflessness, generosity, humor, humility, and love – traits that are seemingly in short supply these days.

His passing serves as a harsh and sudden reminder that life and time should never be taken for granted.

Maybe this world would be a better place if we all slowed down for a bit – stopped texting, stopped letting ourselves be consumed by our phones, laptops, video games, and TV – and started connecting and being a light to others, without expecting anything in return. If you were to suddenly pass tomorrow, would you be satisfied with the footprint that you’ve left behind and how deeply you’ve connected with others? Speaking for myself – the answer is “No”.

Why bring this up at all here?

Two reasons.

First, I want everyone who reads this blog to know that the reason I have obsessed over personal finances as much as I have is not so that I can buy nicer, bigger, or better things or see an ever-growing balance in my bank account. Those things mean NOTHING to me (my wife and I share a 12-year old Grand Am with 170K miles that leaks oil and steering fluid, if you need proof).

hugI do this so that one day I can buy myself the time to be a better husband, brother, son, friend, activist, contributor, and community member. The time to be more of the man that I want to be. And I’d encourage you to make that the ultimate goal of your financial pursuits as well.

The problem is that in sight of that long-term goal, I have often lost focus on the present moment. I’ve been too focused on myself. I’ve missed opportunities to connect and be a bright spot in another’s dark day. I need to work on that. Most of us do.

Second – I wanted to share this story in the honor of my friend so that his spirit can live on through others and the sudden, tragic nature of his death is not without purpose. I realize this may be hard for others to internalize since you likely did not know him. I can’t say we were close friends, but he had an impact on me, nonetheless. There are certain gentle, caring, kind souls out there that enrich others’ lives without expecting anything in return. They make the time for you no matter who you are. He was one of them. I’m sure you’ve personally met a few over the years. Pay it forward in honor of them.

That spirit is what truly makes life worth living. Nothing positive in the history of mankind has been produced without it. Start by calling your friends and family and telling them you love them. Give everyone a hug. Stop judging and start helping. Stop dividing, start uniting.

But don’t let it stop there. Time is ticking away. And sometimes it stops without warning.

There is good in all of us. Go out there and share while you have the opportunity.

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