Well... I just came back from visiting my 93-year old father in Florida. He's one tough man, but he's on his way out -- suffering these days from congestive heart failure, lymphoma cancer, loss of hearing, and increasing kidney problems. We were sitting in his living room, Beijing Olympics turned off, when he turns to me, his arms black, blue, and purple from all the blood tests and says...
"These days it's all about doctors and needles. Where is the reward?"
Father of two, grandfather of five, great grandfather of four, he could not -- at that moment -- find any redeeming grace in his life, any proof that his life was well-lived. He could not identify the "reward" for all his many heroic efforts.
Several times, over the years, I've done my best to bring this topic to the table, in words he might understand, with not a whole lot of success. Now, at the end of his days, we were both sitting there in the stillness, his question echoing in the room:
"Where is the reward?"
One thing I've learned is that answering this question is not easy. Words do not cut it. Nor do books, pep talks, poetry, or procrastination. The answer to my father's question needs to come from within. When I stop and reflect on my dad's question, the answer I get is that the reward people are seeking is the experience of LOVE and GRATITUDE in the present moment.
For some of us, "reward" has come to mean retirement or recognition or financial security or comfort or the promise of heaven. Um... I don't think so... and only have to look into the eyes of my dying father to know that for sure.
And so, dear friends known and unknown, I humbly invite you to reflect on my father's question today: "Where is the reward?"
If you are waiting for it to come, you may want to reconsider your approach. As far as I can tell, the reward is already here and always has been. Indeed, the ultimate reward is being able to recognize and appreciate that the reward we've been seeking is already here.
Each one of us already has it. The inheritance has already been given. No lawyers are needed to help us fill out papers. No notary public is needed to stamp them.
All we need to do is feel it and give thanks.
In terms of eternity, my dad is leaving just a second sooner than the rest of us. Each of us will get our chance. As the Buddha said, "All things made of component parts eventually return to the ONE" -- be it your business, your marriage, your house, or your body.
So, while we're here, let's do everything we can to enjoy that reward. This very moment.
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 27, 2008 09:36 AM
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