Saturday, September 25, 2010

When You Arrive

Last week I was watching a Tivo'ed episode of the farewell season of Oprah. Don't get me started, please. I haven't cried all day today. Paul Simon was on singing a song that he'd written as the show's theme song a few years back. He'd changed some of the lyrics to make them appropriate to what's going on in the world of the super mogul right now. Now, you know my memory is bad, so I don't remember either the name of the song or most of the lyrics, but I do remember one line. I wasn't even paying that much attention to the song, but that one line leaped right out at me. "Will you be home when you arrive?"

I can't be exactly sure of the message Mr. Simon was trying to convey with that line, but here's what I took from it. After you work hard your whole life, after you raise your children, after you care for your aging parents or otherwise do all the things you think you should be doing, will you be happy with where you'll be? Will you be satisfied? Will you be content? Will you feel safe? When you finally reach your destination, will you be home?

Let's explore what "home" means. I did a search for the word "home" on I thought these were notable: 1. noun, a place in which one's domestic affections are centered. and 2. (in games) the destination or goal. Some of us are employed by things we think decent people should do, but that don't necessarily make us happy. We are police officers because the job provides a steady paycheck. We work two or three jobs, 60-80 hours per week because our regular paychecks don't cover the bills. We let our children practically raise themselves so that we can give them everything they want and need.

I'm not implying that any of these things is wrong. You're sacrificing your own happiness for the happiness of others. It's a selfless act indeed and I applaud your altruism. But what else are you sacrificing? I think our goal should be to end up happy in the place in which our affections are centered. In other words, your home should be your home.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that self-sacrifice does not feel good. Sacrifice of any kind just doesn't breed good feelings. What it actually does breed is resentment. Oh, you feel good about it at first. One might even say that you feel noble. You're giving up the things you need so that someone else can have what he needs. That makes you a good person, and don't we all want to be good persons? Then one day it doesn't feel so warm and fuzzy to risk your life for people who greet you with increasing disrespect. You have no nervous anticipation of how impressed your boss will be after you've worked through the weekend to finish a project while he went skiing with his family. Hell, you didn't even get to see your family because you were so busy working. And what of that anyway? Your children are growing up and you're missing it. They're developing into intelligent, miniature adults and you're not witnessing any of it first hand. Does that make you feel good? Does that bring your whole life full circle? Meanwhile that novel that's been brewing deep in your heart isn't being written. All the beauties of life are going by unpainted. Songs are not being sung. Love is not being made. Life is passing you by.

Just to be clear I'm not telling anyone to quit his job. The state of civil litigation being what it is, I had to throw that in there. You could try to sue me if you'd like, but honey, I'm here to tell you that I have neither a nine-to-five nor a steady paycheck. Any decisions about your future happiness are clearly yours to make. But when you're 80-years-old, rocking on your porch in the crisp autumn breeze, I just want to know (ask yourself right now)...will you be home?

Until next week,

Feed on love; subsist on peace.

1 comment:

  1. I just googled the lyrics to that song and nowhere in it is the line, "will you be home when you arrive." Yet, I am POSITIVE that I heard him say it more than once. Weird, huh? God will give you your message no matter what it takes. Okay, Lord, I hear ya!


Let me hear your voice.