How to Avoid the Ghosts
Life contains many choices that we make. Some of those choices will not have any real effect upon our lives. Nonetheless, some choices will radically affect our lives either positively or negatively. One person that broached the topic of choosing wisely was Steve Jobs.
When Jobs spoke, I listened. This is one of his ideas that I have always remembered and made a part of my life. "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful-that's what matters to me." That comment was made a decade before Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. At the time, he was both healthy and rich. Nevertheless, he was interested in doing something of value in life beyond making money.
Jobs' comment about "the richest man in the cemetery" is a critical issue for each one of us to explore. Each of us has a choice regarding how we lead our lives and what drives us. Money provides benefits beyond mere survival. It allows us all to enjoy things that often would be beyond the means of many.
Nonetheless, money and the quest for it can get out of hand and ruin our lives. Jobs lived his life doing what he considered helpful to society. The fact that he made money was merely a byproduct of his endeavor and not the reason for it. Doing something important in his life transcended "being the richest man in the cemetery."
Additionally, Steve Jobs was not the first person to raise the issue of rich men in cemeteries. Charles Dickens wrote a novella, A Christmas Carol, in 1843, which interestingly was exactly a century before I was born.
A Christmas Carol's main character was Ebenezer Scrooge, who unfortunately lived a couple centuries prior to Steve Jobs. Scrooge could have benefited from Steve Jobs' comment, "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful-that's what matters to me."
Old Scrooge was a greedy, stingy old misanthrope. He worked and wondered each day how to make more money. Dickens wrote that Scrooge "was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone...a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster."
Scrooge also would go to bed each night not thinking about having done anything for someone in need; he went to bed to dream of making more money the next day. Then one night he began seeing three ghosts. The first ghost was Christmas Past followed by Christmas Present, and finally Christmas Yet To Be.
Beyond Scrooge being oblivious to Steve Jobs' concern for having done something for others, we too miss the message of Dickens' parable. During much of Scrooge's wintry and cold life, he did not care about those less fortunate than he.
Nonetheless, Scrooge, late in life, experienced a rebirth. He left the winter of life and entered a springtime. Thanks to the ghosts, Scrooge saw the light. Scrooge shifted from a man who only cared about himself and his wealth to a man who cared about others and helping them. Steve Jobs and Ebenezer Scrooge shared a great insight. The only remaining question is whether each of us will see the light and live in our spring times.
We have exactly a half of a year before Christmas returns. In these next six months, we can do as Steve Jobs and Ebenezer Scrooge did...reach out to others to help them on their journey through life. My suggestion is to follow their examples or else be prepared for the ghosts when Christmas arrives at the end of the year.
This is the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol.
This is a much older version of A Christmas Carol.
This video is of Mickey Mouse version of A Christmas Carol.
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