People Keep Popping Up in the Scenery

I overheard a conversation between two captains of industry.   One was a senior banker who retired some 15 years ago and the other was a big-time director of a large national company who was just about to retire.  In fact, his company and associates were going to throw a big retirement bash for him on his last day of work at the end of the month.  The banker said, “George, you know all these years, you have been used to a lot of attention.  All these many people were trying to get appointments to see you at work and after work you had all these dinners that you were invited to.  But let me tell you that after your big retirement bash, suddenly there will be no more any clamoring for an appointment and there will be few if any dinner invites too.”

The banker’s point was this; the big-time director was in charge of a company that would award some USD 10 million in contracts every year and because of  this, all manner of people crawl out of the woodwork and try to “curry favor” with him, “show respect” or in the local euphemism, “carry big leg”.   However, once he steps down and no longer hands out the contracts, it will be as if all these “friends” will have disappeared.

With perhaps a few exceptions (Steve Jobs may be one), most of us give the better part of our youth and vigor towards some soulless corporation or organisation.  The corporation or organisation may benefit greatly from our efforts but in all likelihood, our contributions and indeed our names may be forgotten from the corporate consciousness as the fresh new enthusiastic crop of corporate climbers report in.

The flip side of the banker’s point was that our life’s value is actually measured by the lives we touched and by the people who remember us.  This is something that I believe is true but it was nice to hear someone with all the money and worldly success to say it too.  At least then, it is not a case of sour grapes on my part or should I say, it is not a case of “beetle infested walnuts”.

I feel the same way about traveling or other life achievements.  What’s the point in being a war hero if everyone else in your unit died in the fire-fight and you have no-one who wants to listen about what happened during a war they would rather forget?  Or what about walking solo to the South Pole but you continue to have your dinners solo too.

Achievements and experiences mean more when shared with people who care and who care about us.  I have done much traveling and the experience was so much more meaningful and pleasurable when shared.   When I reflect on my one month hitch-hiking and train hopping through Europe, I can still remember the majestic glory the Alps, the awesomeness of the Norwegian fiords, the wondrous culture and art in Vienna and the history of Brugges but even more, I appreciate the beer shared in pleasant company in the Ardennes, the cheerful guide at the folk museum in Bergen, the German farmer who picked me up during a torrential downpour and gave me a ride to town, the Dutch innkeeper in Yugoslavia who happened to have grown up in Indonesia and the many more people that made my trip to Europe unique and different from everyone else’s.


Guide at Folk Museum in Bergen - Warm Smile on Cold, Rainy Norwegian Day

So in all things, people are the gems that shine in our crown of life.  They sure keep popping up and ruining my photos of the scenery!


11 thoughts on “People Keep Popping Up in the Scenery”

  1. Totally true. At this point in my life I’m working for an organization that has a cause, so I feel good about that. And I always keep a journal when I travel, to remember conversations with people in taxis, cafes, museums, etc. – those are the real gems of a trip.

  2. Well spoken, for a squirrel… hard to imagine why we give up so much of our lives to these corporations we work for, in return for so little, and no doubt, as you say, to be forgotten shortly after we leave… Far better to seek recognition for our creations in other ways, more personally…

  3. Xandi,
    That’s great. Glad you liked it.

    Riot Kitty,
    Working for a good cause is worthwhile and as long as you know that you have done good, it matters not whether anyone remembers cause the reward is in the doing and not in any fleeting recognition. As for keeping a journal of travels with records of conversations – that’s a great idea.

  4. Owen,
    We seem to live our lives driven to pursue what in hindsight is the less important. We live in a topsy turvy world. As for squirrels, we always speak well -it’s just we speak fast and in a high pitch so it might be difficult to understand us sometimes. But I purposely type slowly so that mere humans can understand. 🙂

  5. oceangirl,
    I used to think I would love to be marooned on a deserted island but now I know that isn’t true. And meeting people on the blogosphere is what makes that world fulfilling – people like you.

    Thanks, it’s just some personal reflections. Thanks for taking time to read my ramblings. Question: What is worse than finding a beetle larva in the walnut that you are chewing on? (hint: you gotta think like a squirrel). Answer: Half a beetle larva (think about it).

  6. the only thing I remember about working is that I used to do it. That I don’t see or hear from anyone anymore is simply fine by me. The four years worth of traveling I did though–yeah those pesky people keep popping up in the best part of the scenery.

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