A former client of mine died yesterday. She was 31. I have not spoken with her in five years and our relationship was strictly business. But, her death rattled me, not only because of her age, but because she died of complications related to a bout with pneumonia. As it turns out, my son spent last week in the hospital thanks to a not-so-mild case of pneumonia. And, as I write this, I am coughing up a lung of my own and wondering if it’s time to see my doctor.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years. I sleep much less. My body no longer responds to commands with the split-second obedience to which I have become accustomed. My inner college athlete is dying a slow, painful St. Elmo’s Fire style death. I can still hit on the girl next door, but not if it interferes with . . . well, anything else. If I can make it through a week without any major damage to my children, home, or client relationships, I can withstand some collateral damage to my body or ego.
But, it occurs to me, perhaps 40 years after it should have, that I don’t want to die. The narcissist inside posits that there are too many people who rely on me and they could not possibly survive without me. But, that’s probably not true. And, there are certainly things I fear much more than death. The reason I never gave mortality much thought is because I was too busy engaged in the pursuit of happiness. And, to be honest, that quest is so exhausting that a little rest – – any rest – – starts to become attractive.
But, I recently discovered that the pursuit of happiness is a mirage. It’s a mouse on an endless wheel just trying to get some cheese. You cannot pursue happiness. You either find happiness in what you have, or you spend your life looking for something you will never find. I have always appreciated my life; having achieved milestones that I do not deserve. I will always pursue more. And better. But, not happiness. I am happy beyond my share and that is reason enough to live. Rest In Peace, Sandra.