Four basic human needs
“To live, to learn, to love, to leave a legacy”
- Life isn’t over yet
In the movie Wall Street Gordon Gecko is played by Michael Douglas. He is a cunning unprincipled multi-millionaire corporate raider. One day he speaks to a meeting of spellbound shareholders who are worried about a takeover bid. He declares,
‘……ladies and gentlemen, greed for the lack of a better word is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind …..’
Later in the film, Gordon’s friend Bud asks, ‘Tell me, Gordon where does it all end? ……..how many yachts can you water-ski behind? How much is enough?
Thoreau the philosopher said that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” In my conversations with my peers I hear this desperation expressed often. They suspect that the endless accumulation of things isn’t quite enough. And as we rapidly approach middle age there is a sense of unease that perhaps we won’t quite measure up. That we have missed the main thing and that our chances to get it right are rapidly passing us by.
I recently was talking to a friend who was expressing his dissatisfaction with life. In his mid forties he is moderately successful in business. He has a small business that he runs very efficiently, he has a loving wife, his family are rapidly growing the eldest two successful in their chosen fields and the younger three progressing well in their schools. In most ways his life looks together yet he constantly says, “There must be something more?”
What’s wrong with Steve? He feels that he should be earning more. He feels that his business should be bigger. That he should be driving a better car. Life hasn’t fulfilled the promise that it seemed to have in his twenties and thirties. He says that even beyond the financial side there is this unease that keeps gnawing at him and he’s not quite sure what to do about it.
His disquiet strikes a cord in me although it is not quite as fully developed. I too feel a growing sense of urgency within myself. I am nearly forty. I still don’t have a full time job. I am currently studying for a Master’s degree yet I’m not sure if even that will secure employment. I have three children aged three and under, this means that I will be sixty by the time that they might even think about leaving home. A friend told me that he never really started getting ahead financially until his kids had left home. That comment made me feel slightly sick in the stomach and I felt that sense of urgency once again. I will be left with approximately five years to save for my retirement which will not be nearly enough to save the $500 000 dollars or so that I will need to retire on.
Life has changed! I am no longer the care free adventurous young person I once was. I ask myself:
- What happened, who am I, where am I going?
- Have I wasted the first 25 years of my working life?
- Should I panic because we don’t own our own home?
- Is it too late at 42 to find financial freedom?