The recent death of Steve Jobs was yet another stark reminder of the fragility of life. No matter how rich or famous you are, the grim reaper does not care. While I won’t admit how close in age Jobs and I are, I will admit that I fully recognize that my life could end any moment, though I pray it doesn’t. There is still too much to do, see, and too much work left to do.
Potential lessons abound today, as we’re dealing with money crises, the worst of my and my boys’ lives. My boys will gain wisdom from this. So will I. Things often taken for granted will no longer be. I will live the life I preach and take the same, at times, harsh medicine I’m asking them to swallow.
The other day I was helping my younger son set up his computer. He inherited my old one. I looked around his room and realized the extraordinary amount of “things” he possessed and that he’d known no other way of living. There was a TV, DVD player, two or three portable video game devices, an “old” and “new” cell-phone, and more boxed DVD sets than they carry at Blockbuster. And, now, his own computer, albeit a “used” one. Nah, the lessons they’ll learn will serve them well.
I had naively hoped never to live through tough economic times like my folks did, with The Great Depression. And, while I still believe that we’re far from those stupid dark economy days, it is clear that we are in the midst of the worst financial crisis of my life and certainly of my boy’s lives. There are lessons for them, for me, for all of us.
I recently got in a debate with a close friend about his wanting to get his not-yet-16-year-old a car. “He’s done well in school; he deserves it,” my friend says. This same friend is financially strapped, in constant debt, yet wants to please his son whose many friends “all have cars.” This is the ultimate juggling act for my generation of parents, who seem inclined to pamper their kids, delay their growing up, and otherwise give them everything they desire. It seems we’re all trying to compensate for some perceived slight our kids are suffering at our hands, whether it’s the dual-working parents or, in my case, the ugly divorce and absentee Mom. I feel bad for them, so I buy to assuage those feelings.