On Monday, I turned 28 and one of the first things realized is that I never spell “diarrhea” right. Why I thought about that, I couldn’t tell you. I was walking up a flight of stairs and it hit me. Not diarrhea…but the fact that I can’t spell it. I never know where to put that “h.”
When I was in High School, I left my mom a note that said something to the effect of “Going to a friend’s house tomorrow.” I misspelled “tomorrow,” and instead of my mom giving me a hard time about letting her know that I wanted to go to a friend’s house on such short notice, she made me write out “tomorrow” 10 times on the back of the note. From that day forward, the only times I’ve misspelled “tomorrow” is when I’ve typed it too fast or because my fat fingers hit a lot of extra letters during a text. A weird lesson, but a lesson nonetheless.
Major milestones in my life always make me think about where I’ve come from and where I want to go. A couple of people in my life recently passed away and it makes me think about what they did in their life and what I’m doing in mine. When I think about my life, I realize that I haven’t really contributed anything substantially beneficial to the rest of the world. I don’t think I’m looking to invent the next internet or solve world hunger. But I feel like my 95% of my life will probably be spent consuming. I’ll read good books, watch good movies, listen to good music, use good products, participate in good experiences and eat good food. But what am I doing to contribute to someone else’s life?
Death is a really difficult thing for me to deal with. I don’t really know how to react to it. I see everyone sad, and I know it’s a sad time, but a lot of times, I don’t feel sad. And I never know what to say to someone because nothing that you can really say can ever cheer anyone up. And because I already know that, I don’t say anything at all. It’s not because I’m looking at the bright side; I just don’t react. Often times, I think a lot of people struggle with death because they feel like something was stripped away from them before they were ready to let that thing go. “I never got to say goodbye” is something that I’ve heard before. There is no last “I love you” or “thank you for everything.” But I’m not sure if those things would make you feel any better.
I think what people are looking for is closure. Things that happen that don’t give us an answer that we can accept leaves us in an uncomfortable space of not knowing. And I think a lack of knowledge leads to a lack of understanding. I think what we want is to close all chapters in our lives when we are personally ready to do it. And a lot of times, that doesn’t happen. But I figure if someone was important to me and I was important to them, the all of the things I said and did before they passed shows my love. And if they really loved me, they probably weren’t looking for a “thank you” or a “goodbye” anyway.
At some point, I think we all try to figure out the biggest “whys” in our lives, including one of the biggest: “Why am I here?” I’m not sure if I’ll ever figure that out, and I think very few people will. We’ll go through our lives, learn a little bit, earn a little bit of money, maybe raise a few kids, and that’s it. Our words and actions affect others and then that’s pretty much it for us.
But maybe those words and actions are what we were put on this earth to do. Maybe I’m here, not necessarily to leave an impression on the world, but to leave an impression on the few people that my world touches. Maybe our purpose in life is to influence other people’s lives in the present. And maybe that’s all we can focus on until we invent the next internet.
To this day, I think the tangible deliverables that I’ve provided have only really benefited the companies that I’ve worked for. But when I just look at that, I miss all of the intangibles that I’ve offered. And who’s to say that those intangibles weren’t more meaningful than the mark I left on a company? If those intangibles are all I care to receive, then that’s all I should care to give.
Thanks for reading. If I haven’t said it before, I love you and thank you for all of the intangibles.
– The Intangible Consumer