Looking Back at Life

Ever punch a rooster? Business owners discuss the meaning and purpose of life ó and how to enjoy it. January 22, 2006

I was born and raised in residential construction. I first swung a hammer for money at age 16 or 17, and from that day forward I have never punched a time clock. I have always worked when I wanted to or needed to. Iíve been on mountains and in valleys, and I have more than some folks and less than others, but what I have no amount of money can buy. I wake up naturally, then hit the light on my watch, or pull the shade, which ever feels best.

Forum Responses
(Business Forum)
From contributor A:
I never punched a time a clock, but I've laid out a rooster a time or two. Iíve spent most of my life in the "have not" column but can't see that I'm any less happy than my comfortable customers. I know I complain far less than the rich do. Most times it's nice being my own boss. A fortune cookie once said I'd be well rewarded for my hard work, but it was as accurate as the lottery numbers on back. But in my next life I'm going to be the customer, and God help the cabinetmaker who wins that bid!

From contributor B:
We are all broke at different levels. We are all wealthy at different levels. To place oneself in the "have" or the "have not" category is a little black and white. Our lives are not black and white - they are rainbow colored. Good and bad will happen to all regardless of social class. Lasting happiness comes from within, not from outside. The best things in this world are not things. It is unfortunate that most of us need to live half of our lives before we figure that out.

From contributor C:
I'm 36 years old. I have fought in one war, passed two apprenticeships, worked in as many as five different trades, sailed across the north Atlantic twice, the south Atlantic once. As a result I have crossed the equator at sea from north to south and back the other way all on private ventures. I have climbed two mountains, dived in three oceans, made and lost two fortunes and have been deeply in love with two women. I have also visited and absorbed the cultures, culinary, wine and women in maybe as many as 33 countries all on my own steam. Basically I have already lived twice the life of many. When I wake up in the mornings I'm happy and that to me is what is really important. Will there be a third fortune? Iím playing the lotto, but even if I do win big I know I will spend the money again.

From contributor D:
The older I get, the better I was.

From contributor E:
I was born 48 years ago. I am 5th generation in the woodworking business in one form or another. One of my grandfathers worked for old man Trump. I am also 5th generation in the antique business - buying, selling, and restoring. It seems that I was destined to be where I am today. I have been to almost every state in the USA, and someday I'll get to the last two. Can you guess which ones they are? I have been married three times - twice by paper and one by common law. The first two took what they could before they left. I have built some killer homes over the years and I still get thank you cards at the holidays for some of the furniture I have built. Some days I wake up in a good mood, sometimes not. Sometimes the sun is shining and sometimes not. Sometimes I have money and sometimes not. I guess the point to all this is, I do what I love and love what I do. I have had a few great friends as well as some great enemies. I have had the pleasure of being in the company of some of the most amazing women god has ever put on this earth, as well as the most treacherous. But the most important thing is the wood - the colors, the grains and the simplicity yet complexity of it all. Think about it - if it wasn't for us taking the time to learn how to put a few pieces of wood together to make a chair, for example, where would we sit and ponder our lives?

From contributor F:
I've had a great life! I've been across the Atlantic twice, both times in a jumbo jet flying First Class. Both times were to vacation with my partner for life, my lovely wife. I've sailed in the Caribbean, vacationed in Jamaica, Aruba (3 times), St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas on a totally private island. I've been to more states in this wonderful country than I can remember, have seen a lot, and plan on seeing a lifetime more. I've helped people see a clear path to changing their life for the better, forever, more than most could even imagine. But, I was broke once and down on my luck. So I chose self education instead of self pity. Pity brings its own punishment, and you deserve it if you subscribe to it. I chose reading books instead of watching television. I quickly learned that life is better when you treat the world with kindness and are respectful of others.

I formed a credo, a one word mission statement which I vowed to live by. That word is integrity. I traded in watching sports all day on Sunday and playing golf for finding a better way to live life. I stumbled, I failed a few times, but I paid my dues and was rewarded handsomely. I went from constantly worrying about money to becoming financially independent for the rest of my life. As I got older, I got wiser, stronger and found that my "true" purpose in life is to help others by teaching them to help themselves. You know, if you passed me on the street you wouldn't know it. I look just like everyone else. But if you're lucky enough to speak with me, to look me in the eye, you'll instantly see my passion for living, helping and educating those who want a better life bad enough to do something about it.

Get this: Once I figured it out, once I discovered the secret, once I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, as clear as the day before you right now, everything else just fell into place, almost instantly. Success isn't a guarded secret known only to the rich and famous; anyone can have it. If you choose not to, I'm okay with it, as long as you are. But if you choose to be the exception instead of the norm, then I commend you. It's easy to be like everyone else. It's easy to win and lose, and win and lose, and win and lose until it's what you expect to happen to you over and over and over again. It's a challenge to your self intellect to win, and win again, and win again, time after time until you always win and get exactly what you want. If you think this bull, bravo! You've succumbed to the win and lose, win and lose lifestyle. Good luck and enjoy it forever, it's your destiny.

If youíre done with living that way, then make a stand, draw the line in the sand and figure out what it is going to take to get you to where you want to be. Oh, and here's some shocking news, it has nothing to do with where you are today, or what you have, or don't have, and it has everything to do with what you're willing to do to go to the next level in your life; to make a decision to live the way you want and get the things you want.

Luck isn't a factor, it never is. You are where you are today because you chose to be there. Only you are accountable for your disposition in life, whether you like it or not. You are the only one that can make the changes necessary to live a life that's more in tune with your dreams, desires, and what you really want it to be like. No matter how many places you've been, how many marriages you've had, how many continents you've stood on, how many fortunes you've made, and lost, how well you're doing now, or how well you're not doing, only you can make the decision to change it. If you like everything about your life, are happy where you are, enjoy the life you lead, the money you make, the partner you have, or don't have, the vacations you take, the places you go, the people you associate with and the possessions you have, then God bless! If you're not, then you have to make the decision for change. You are the keeper of your faith and the master of your soul. No one else has the responsibility for you. Only you do.

There are only two choices going forward: Continue to live life as it is, if you so desire, or do something to change it. You only get what you think you deserve, nothing more, nothing less. Live the life you deserve!

From contributor G:
I have to say that I am lucky in life. I was born in the right place at the right time I guess. My ancestors were coal miners who migrated from Scotland in the mid eighteen hundreds. Life has got to be rough when you travel across the ocean to find a mine to work in. I am lucky enough to be my own boss and be responsible for my own future. Although I am still very young I have seen a few things and hope to see many more. But I have learned that most of us in the younger generations, the ones who have not lived through the hardships of war or depression, are often more concerned with what they don't have then what they do have. I was privileged last year to travel to a third world country on my honeymoon. I say privileged because it opened my eyes to a different world. I have seen places like it on TV but it is not the same as being there in person - surrounded by poverty 24 hours a day, seeing young children who are so malnourished and often disfigured that they could never hope to work if there were jobs to go to. When I have a bad day I remember my trip. The best day in many of those people's lives will never come close to being as good as my worst day.

I don't make very much money and I have not traveled to many states but I am grateful for what I have. And it's good to see that many of my fellow woodworkers are of the same mind. I just wish the rest of the country felt the same.

From contributor H:
I spent most of the day with my grandkids at an Air Museum. I hope this new generation will remember the sacrifices made by a bunch of young men in Europe, Asia, the North Atlantic and the vast Pacific Ocean. After leaving the Army in 1972, I figure every day is gravy.