24 January 2015

The Precious Things I Threw Away as a Young Man

By J. Fairbank

Happy New Year, dear faithful readers of the Fairbank Report.  This year, 2015, marks the 10th anniversary of this blog.  Where did the time go?

Of late, I've been reflecting on life, work, and happiness.  One constant theme in my life is my nonchalant abandonment of things (and perhaps a few people too?) that made me happy.  Of course, I did not know it then when I threw them away.  I was throwing them away to advance my career or fortune.  Career and fortune don't necessarily bring happiness.  They sometimes do, but many times bring on the opposite.

Was it Descartes who advised us to "know thyself?"  How many of us really do until it's too late?

Oftentimes, I envy the clerical or even janitorial staff who worked in the many companies that I was a part of.  They were happy with their carefree, stress-free lives.  They brown-bagged their lunches and jovially cracked jokes on the smallest things.  In short, they were contented, which is the essence of life.

On the other hand, those of us who are "degreed" have been leading a lie:  Graduate in the top 5% of your university, pursue a career track, and CLAW your way to the top. When you do, you will be happy.  What they (the mass media, the school system, mainstream society in general) did not tell us are the many sleepless nights, upset stomachs, psychological torments, and even psychosomatic blotches on our skin that come with the rat race.  In the end, what's there?  Maybe a respectable title?  Maybe some money, a maybe at that?  But not necessarily happiness.

Know Thyself...Know Thyself early on in life.