This house sits across the waterway in front of the trail surrounding our apartment building. We live in luxury apartments on Tampa Bay but they are decidedly less luxurious than the mansions lining the other side of the channel.
Check it out. There is a white sand beach behind that house, with several beach chairs, hammocks, a jungle gym for kids, trampoline, spacious upper deck and huge lanai for those few rainy days. The house is surrounded by palm trees and sitting right on the gulf–that’s a saltwater channel. This is the house you dream of owning while putting yourself through college.
The thing is, I don’t know who owns it. I have never seen anybody there. Its own private beach built for parties and family gatherings or just for lounging after a long day, to my knowledge, has never been used.
I walk by that house and its many neighboring mansions at least twice a day, at varying times. For almost six months now, as I pass my apartment neighbors along the walking trail on our side of the channel, I see the mansions lining the other side every day.
And yet… I have never seen anyone outside on that side of the channel. Not once. Nobody lounging in the yard, nobody barbecuing on their huge deck, nobody sunning by their boat docks, nobody swimming in their infinity pools in front of the bay.
My theory about that is simple. The people who own those mansions never have time to enjoy their house with private beach or huge double decks because those people are too busy working to pay for the home and car and lifestyle.
The point is, in our cultural addiction for succeeding (whatever that means), how often do we stop to ask, “Why do I want to succeed? What does success look like, to me? How will I know when I am there?”
We are steeped in a constant pressure cooker to buy more things, own bigger things, make more money, have a nicer car, hang out with more important people… to the point where success has become the means and the end in itself…a never ending cycle.
The problem, then, is if you succeed… then what?
Why own a house you never see? Why have a private beach if you never get to lay in the hammock at the water? Why own a luxury car if you will never have the spare time to read the manual and find out what makes it luxurious?
Success is important. Don’t get me wrong. Evolution demands that we, as a species, continue to improve, and grow, and prosper. It is our nature, literally in our genes. However, it does not matter how rich you become, or how famous, or how talented, if you have no idea what to do with your money, or popularity, or skills, once you attain them.
If you have no purpose, having more success won’t help.
Or, put another way, regardless of how old or successful you are… what do you want to be when you grow up?
Be that. The house, money, and car won’t make a difference… unless you wanted to be a big empty house when you grow up.