When I die, I am not going to make a mental tally of how much money I have made over the course of my life. I am not going to count the number of important hands that I have shaken, or cocktail party niceties I have exchanged. I am not going to mull over the perceived slights I might have felt over the years. I am going to think about my mother and my father. I am going to think about my dearest friends -- my brothers. I am going to think about the women I have loved and whether I was a good man to them or not. It is connection that is the currency I wish to accrue. I want to die a wealthy man.
I walked into a health food store yesterday right before it closed, and the only people inside were me, Owen Wilson, and Woody Harrelson. They walked in barefoot and sand-covered, just coming from the beach. We shot the shit for 20 minutes while we waited for our smoothies, and while Woody bought pile of goji berry-infused chocolate because his friend owned the company. He forgot his wallet, and so he made Owen pay. These guys were loving life, and of course, who could blame them -- they're rich and famous and live in Malibu and all that. In the little time I spent with them though, the external stuff didn't seem to matter in the slightest. They were just happy to be with each other and talk to people. When you do not have to think about how you are going to provide your family's next meal or make your next car payment or not go underwater on your mortgage, you can more easily see the big picture. If life is a map, all money is good for is the ability to un-blur a bigger portion of it.
As I write this, I sit clouded by doubt about my purpose on this planet. For the first time in my life I can do whatever I want to do, yet I sometimes find myself wishing the hours of the day would move faster. I am filled with self-doubt about my ability to do something meaningful. I do not think I am alone in thinking these things.
Our world is filled with distractions, and I am just as guilty as the next person in taking advantage of them. Sometimes I find myself playing a game on my phone while I am watching a movie with my family. But if attention is a cup, mine has a hole in the bottom. The more distractions I fill it with, the more will be wasted. It is those memories of connection, of love, that manage to stay in the cup. Most of us are have this propensity to distract ourselves to some degree, I think, but what are we trying to distract ourselves from? We don't live in 17th-century England -- life is no longer nasty, brutish, and short. Society marches irrevocably forward as we are leaving our attention behind. We have devalued it to such a degree that we openly joke about how much time we waste on the Internet. I do it just as much as the next person. But I want to die a wealthy man.
Never, in any point in human history, have there been more outcasts in the world than there are right now. The Japanese even have a word, hikikomori, for young men who do not emerge from their rooms for months at a time, living virtual lives on their computers. This terrifies me. This makes me want to bring everyone I love to an island far away. I do not know what I am supposed to be doing here -- or what I am supposed to do next. But I do not want to wait until I am dead to be a wealthy man.