A Tale of Two Boats
My wife and I decided to visit her to check out her new life. While there, we took a boat tour of the waterways leading out of the city toward the Gulf of Mexico. Such a beautiful place…full of activity, wildlife, yachts and incredible homes decorated the shores. As the tour guide began to speak, it didn’t take long to realize that these weren’t your average luxury homes. After one home was purchased for nearly $20 Million, the new owners threw a huge party. The very next day they began to tear the home down so they could build a bigger, better one. Another home was loved by the new owners, except they wanted the staircase leading upstairs to be located on the other side of the house. So, they tore the entire home down and rebuilt it just so they could make that change. One man’s yacht was valued at $30 Million…more than his home… It took $40,000 just to fill its fuel tank! To top it all off, apparently most people only use these homes for a few weeks a year. Incredible!
I began to wonder what the lives of these people were like. What did they do? What did they think about? It would seem they could have or do whatever they wanted. I mused, “What would it feel like to be in their boat?” (Or should I say yacht?) After my initial thoughts of fantasy wore off, the thought of boredom entered and began to rattle around in my mind.
Much of the rest of our time during our visit was spent with older people. I watched as they did their best to get around, many using walkers. I began to wonder what their lives were like. What did they do? What did they think about? All that time available, yet their bodies (sometimes minds) slowing down. I recall one man describing his plans for the day; watching golf and taking a loop around the premises. How many of his days were like this? I projected myself a few years ahead and tried to imagine, “What will it feel like if I make it into that boat?” It sure made me appreciate the importance of keeping myself healthy….but, another thought of boredom hit me, this time from a completely different angle and joined the prior thought rattling around in my mind. Then God raised a strange question in my mind.
Two boats? Or…are they in the same boat?
Hummm……I thought for a while and settled as I remembered of the writer of Ecclesiastes. While keeping a sober mind, he searched to find the source of meaning and happiness. He tested every path, from great wealth and accomplishment, to parties and all that goes along with them. His conclusion: Everything under the sun is meaningless. Isn’t this the truth? One could acquire great wealth or live to a ripe old age only to realize it all could end up being meaningless.
Most of us desire greater wealth and to live to a healthy ripe old age. It seems to be our nature to want to live long healthy lives, without concern about money, laughing and playing all of the time. I have come to believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with this; a little health and wealth would make life a lot easier! But young, old, healthy, sick, wealthy or poor….we all run the risk of experiencing meaninglessness. Living out our lives in shallow existence. Let’s call this the “Boat of Meaninglessness” and each of us could find ourselves in it regardless of our outward circumstances.
From the view of my tour boat, I could see just one side of those wealthy people’s lives. Who really knows the whole picture? Perhaps they live busy, elegant lives…. of boredom. Or perhaps they are leveraging their wealth and expertise to make a difference in the world and in God’s kingdom.
While in Naples, curiosity led me to look up the values and locations of homes of owners of a company I used to work for. Found them located right in the midst of some of the most sought after and expensive areas. Wealthy, without question. Yet, I know they are not living on the Boat of Meaninglessness. They have established several foundations focused on giving back to the communities they live in; serving the poor and underprivileged, also to preserve some natural habitats. Their family foundations will continue to serve the world well past the founder’s lifetimes, giving ongoing purpose and meaning to all those involved. Though very wealthy, they are living on the “Boat of Meaningfulness”; where we use our lives for purposes “above the sun”.
What about the lives of those older people? Perhaps they live uneventful days, resting, reading or watching TV, thinking they are no longer of any good use. Or perhaps they spend time praying or passing their wisdom and love along. I remember hearing of a man, over 90 years old, who spent hours a day knitting hats for the homeless. His hands were crippled by arthritis, he was nearing the end of his life, but he persevered, pressing to do all he could until the day he died. Incredible! He too was living in the Boat of Meaningfulness.
What boat are you living on?
I don’t know your situation, but a record number of Americans are feeling unhappy and purposeless. Of course, circumstances can influence how we feel. However, psychologists who study happiness suggest that only 10% of happiness is due to circumstances. A whopping 40% is due to your own personal outlook….totally within your control. It’s your choice. Perhaps it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions: Where will my satisfaction come from? How long will I allow myself to live this way? What step can I take toward a life of purpose and meaning? How can I get myself on the Boat of Meaningfulness? Beware of the little voice that says “You can never get there….impossible!” Or “I don’t have enough money.” Or “I’m too old.” Will you let these voices run your life? Remember, circumstances are only a small factor in determining your happiness.
Believe me, there is a way….there is always a way! There are two boats to live on and I’ve spent time on both. Moving from the Boat of Meaninglessness to the Boat of Meaningfulness starts by taking one small step. Anyone can take it. You can take it. Life is too short….Don’t waste another day on the wrong boat.
Let me guide you to find your adventure. Check out my book, Unlock Your Life, 5 Steps and a Jump to Living the Adventure God Made You For