Thursday, January 10, 2019

Life is Gains and Losses, and Not Always in an Equal Amount

In the 1980's, there was a popular bumper sticker that read: "The One Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins!" Malcolm Forbes is the person noted for coining that phrase. Mr. Forbes was an American entrepreneur and avid promoter of capitalism and free market trade who lead an extravagant lifestyle -- until his death in 1990 due to a heart attack, at age 70. He is also known as the publisher of Forbes magazine. At the time of his death, Mr. Forbes' net worth (which he never included in his magazine's annual list of the nation's four hundred richest citizens) was estimated between $400 million and $1 billion... and he possessed many 'toys.'

In the Bible, at Mark 8:36, Jesus is quoted as saying, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This verse has been interpreted to mean that those who focus on purchasing/acquiring pleasures of this life -- and choose to lose out on salvation and everlasting bliss with God -- are not "rich" eternally. Our focus should not be on acquiring the most 'toys' and going into death feeling like we win as a result of accumulating more than someone else. I don't believe that anyone arriving at the gates of heaven will be asked how many toys they accumulated during their time on earth. Even Matthew 6:19-20 tells us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." Our true 'treasure' in this world is pursuing a Godly life, being thankful for the blessings we've been given (including our salvation), and the gift of family and friends -- whom are priceless.

Like everyone on this blue spinning marble, I've experienced both gains and losses in life, and not always in an equal amount. Life is a mixture of wins and defeats, acquiring and losing, advancements and declines. Each day we gain another 24 hours of experiences, and we lose another 24 hours of life. All of us have a finite number of days to live. The average American man currently has a life expectancy of 76 years, while the average American woman lives until age 81. Should it really be our goal in those years to acquire the most 'toys' possible so that we can inflate our status in a materialistic world and thereby breathe our last breath believing that somehow we are winners? No, I don't believe that is how anyone should go through life.

There are times in life when we experience a loss only to learn later that we gained more from the experience than we actually lost. There are also times when we gain something in life and later realize that the gain was temporary and caused a permanent loss in another area of our life. Life gives us a regular dose of gains and losses. Both gains and losses can be unexpected, short term, long term, permanent, and life altering. They can be brought on by personal choices, poor decisions, ignorance, greed, and more. Gains and losses can break us or make us. They can define who we are or redefine who we should be. They can cause joy, pain, relief, sadness, elation, and devastation. Life's gains and losses are are around every bend on life's road and our reaction to them says a lot about who we are, what we believe, and the road that we have traveled to that point.

Personally, I don't subscribe to Mr. Forbes' phrase of "The One Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins!" I've been traveling life's road for nearly 54 years -- experiencing countless gains and losses along the way -- and based on my experience, faith and convictions, I say that no one wins at life by having the most toys. Rather, I believe that true winners perceive their lives as containing more joys than toys.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso