Monday, February 24, 2014

Why am I here? ~ My column from Sunday's paper

Have you ever asked yourself the question “Why am I here?”

I sometimes feel like I’ve moved along as though I were floating down the river of life on a
rubber raft. Bad weather and torrential rains changed my course and often tossed me onto the rocks, but when the flood subsided, I was adrift again.

There’s a part of me that envies those who know early on what they want to do with their lives. When the water gets rough, they reach under their seats for a lifejacket and weather the storm without ever getting off course.

I’ve met people who thought they knew what they wanted but learned later in life that they were actually chasing someone else’s dream. 

Drug and alcohol treatment facilities all over the country are full of people who are unhappy with the paths they’ve chosen. They never asked and answered the question: Why am I here?

There are doctors, lawyers, nurses and icons of business that have spent their lives heading in the wrong direction. The sadness they feel is usually unspoken, which over time turns into an emotional cancer with symptoms like depression, dependence on alcohol, sex, drugs or other compulsive behavior. Some of the stories are heartbreaking.

It’s only when these people hit bottom that they come to terms with their demons and the reasons those demons are in their lives.

The folks that recover often have to change priorities, locales, partners and sometimes careers. 

Why is it so hard to figure out why we are here? 

I guess I was fortunate as a kid because my parents didn’t set the bar too high. They wanted me to go to school, find a job, get married and raise a family. They gave me a lot of leeway to make those decisions on my own.

The world to me has always seemed like a big ol’ smorgasbord laden with the best life has to offer and for the most part, I’ve eaten well. But I sometimes wonder if that’s enough.

This might sound strange, but I read a lot of obituaries. You can learn a great deal about how a person lived by what’s written about them when they’re gone. 

Even people who aren’t well known sometimes do remarkable things. It’s easy to feel small if you’re not careful. 

I think people are here on earth for a number of reasons. 

Some envision, some create, some build and some tear down. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

I’ve worked hard all my life, but the jury is still out as to whether I worked smart.

The road is long but in the end, I think all that anyone can hope for is that when everything is tallied up that our obituaries will say we left this world a better place.

I think Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd summed up my feelings nicely with the opening lines to the iconic song Freebird: “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?”

I think being loved while we’re here and remembered when we are gone is the best we can hope for.

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Why am I here 


  1. Rick what an insightful column, I have been thinking about this very thing for the last few weeks. It's so true that being loved is much more important that what we acquire or who we are with... This was very inspirational, have a great week :)

  2. If we manage to make a mark (a good one!) on just one person's life, that's a good life lived. Nice article Rick :)

  3. I often ponder this very subject, Rick.
    I see so many people who seem to have everything they could possibly need to make their lives perfect...yet they destroy it all with obsessions and addictions.
    A lack of real love in their lives, I believe.
    When love is absent, inner demons move in to fill the gap...and once they take hold it is incredibly difficult to evict them.

    Great post, Rick...real "food for thought" :)

  4. Oh, the existentialist angst. I am here to be me so people can love me.


  5. I always thought I never belonged in this world. My mind is so different.
    Maybe thats why I always loved dogs and children. They represent the best of what mankind should be like. I spent most of my life learning. I think learning is what we are here for and then teaching to make it better.There are many roads to take in life but like rivers, they always end up on the one main road.So you can take the hard road or the easy road, it really makes no difference. I get a kick out of religion and philosophy because when you study other things you can see how it all relates and interrelates.
    Some people are hustlers some are watchers. I guess I'm a watcher.

  6. It is so cool that you write for Sunday paper. I am sure quite a few people get inspiration from reading what you write.

  7. I think a lot of people don't know what they want, they just know what they're doing now isn't it. Kind of a sad realisation. I also envied those people who knew exactly what would make them happy and went after it.Often that alone was enough to keep them entertained, even if it never panned out the way they'd hoped.

    Moody Writing

  8. It's what I hope for and that someone else's life was a little better because I was there for them.


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