the illusion of retirement
weekend quotable no. 47

who over what


When you are asked about your day, what comes to mind?

Did you awake today to be with people or to take your orders from things?

Things to do. Things to analyze. Things to sell.


The question is very important and an honest, truthful answer, even more so.

As you search your mind for what you’ve done today or perhaps what you have failed to do, so begins the deliberate dance of measuring yourself against predetermined expectations, obligations, and the tiresome struggle for happiness.

It’s so easy and effortless to recall the things we have done. The things we do.

The what of our lives always bubbles to the surface, because we were taught to be task oriented.

Our schooling, very dutifully and forcibly, convinced us that life is nothing more than a series of lectures, dry PowerPoint presentations, complied into notes, late night study sessions, which ultimately culminate in a seemingly important test.

Our lives haven’t changed much. 

Our thinking is still very much confined to what we have learned in our educational institution.

We have traded our hopes and dreams for good marks, and our rightful place in a commercial or industrial institution.

We pride ourselves that at least we are not suffering the toil of meaningless work in a penal institution.

So, we wake up. Bitch about our morning. Drag our feet to work. Struggle and complain with those who choose to commiserate with our putrid sadness.

We go home. Drown our misery with some fried fish, some Gin and Tonic, and endless episodes of streamed entertainment.

We wake up tired and we begin where we left off. We look for more things to do.

But it’s not about the what.

It’s not about our to do list, about efficiency, productivity, the predictability of measurement, or our misguided expectations, assessments, and evaluations. It’s not about spending the best part of our day at the shopping mall, alone, fighting and searching for the biggest trinket for someone we love, so they can return it after boxing day.

Our day should be about the who.

About the people we love, and about the people whose company we enjoy.

The who is more infinitely more important than the what.

People never serve a purpose. They are not a means to an end.

There is nothing for them to do.

They are human beings.

They are.

They be.

And all we have been give is just a bit of time. A bit of time to spend in their company. To get to know them. To help them and in turn to be supported by them. To leave them a little better and happier than we have found them.

Many of us feel terrible about our day, but we often don’t remember who was there by our side. Who brought us coffee. Who shared a laugh. Who dared to dream out loud. Who persevered against a sea of troubles. Who battled. And who understood and embraced us for who we are.

The who should always trump the what.

You should see your day for the people you spent it with.

It is so simple, yet why is it so complicated?

When you finish reading this. When you are finally done here. Won’t you go back to whatever things are clamoring for your attention? Won’t you forget I ever existed?



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