Saturday, December 16, 2006

What's It All About, Monkey Bob?

If I may be serious for a moment, I had an epiphany today, that I would like to share with you:

It's not about ME. It's about OTHER PEOPLE.

For the past few years, I've felt that my life lacked a sense of direction and purpose. This manifested itself in depression, panic attacks, and a general dissatisfaction with day to day existence. I was not happy, and nothing seemed to make me feel satisfied or fulfilled.

A number of events created this state of mind:

* - I am 57 years old, and recently realized that I'm not going to live forever. The idea that someday I was going to die hit me in the face like a left hook from Mike Tyson. I mean, no shit, I am actually going to die someday! It wasn't an abstract concept. It was a visceral realization. It scared the hell out of me, and threw me off balance emotionally. It gave me nightmares!

* - My best friend John, a contemporary in age, passed away from cancer a year ago.

* - I've reached the point in my life where being a workaholic no longer fulfills my emotional and spiritual needs.

* - My wife got sick in 2000, with a cerebral aneurysm. This required surgery, and she is now partially disabled.

* - My wife's illness almost forced us into bankruptcy (a couple of times), and our financial condition has been "dicey" for the past few years - until very recently. (Things are looking better now.)

* - Two years ago, my wife was involved in a head-on collision. The car was totaled and she was seriously injured. She recovered from the accident, but it was a long, slow process.

* - I have been supporting my 20 year daughter - both emotionally and financially - as she struggles with a new baby, getting through college, and establishing herself as a successful and happy adult.

There's more, but this is the good stuff.

In general, I have been feeling sorry for myself. I don't recommend it as a life style, because it sucks!

Then I recently started supporting monkey conservation groups through my blog. I have been featuring posts about them, linking to them, and also supporting them financially. It has been very rewarding - the first emotional "shot in the arm" that I have felt in a long time! And I genuinely care about this issue. Monkeys are my little buddies!

Also, today I went and worked with Habitat for Humanity in Newark, NJ. I met some really nice people who genuinely care about other people, and back it up with physical work. The program allows low income people to buy their own homes. At the end of the day, I felt better than I've felt in a long time!

The conclusion that I have drawn from these experiences is:

It's not about ME. It's about OTHER PEOPLE (and monkeys).

I feel, after a very long time, that my life is beginning to have some purpose and direction again. I will continue to volunteer my time and energy to worthwhile causes, because I now realize that one person CAN make a difference in our world.

Look for more upbeat news in the near future. I want to use the word zeitgeist in a post. I heard it on National Public Radio!

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