- Ada, Oklahoma

December 23, 2013

As Gatsby learned, it is best not to live in the future

Tom Bush, guest columnist

Ada —

Recently, my wife and I spent an enjoyable evening watching the movie The Great Gatsby. It seemed to the world that Gatsby had it all; untold wealth and a multitude of friends. Everything about Gatsby’s existence was bigger than life. One evening, a neighbor noticed Gatsby standing on the end of the pier on the lake in front of his home. Gatsby appeared to be reaching out to some unknown something while he stared at a distant green light across the lake. 

As it turned out, Gatsby built the big house on the lake and threw huge parties in the hopes that the beautiful lady across the lake, at the house with the green light, would someday visit. You see, he considered her the love of his life, and he planned and plotted to attract her, feeling that she would be his happiness.

 In the end, Gatsby died an early and tragic death. None of his friends, nor the lady across the lake, came to his funeral. So, you might ask what this little tale has to do with the price of rice. Well, it’s an important story because it reveals a truth missed by many — particularly in today’s fast-paced society. The truth is that “Life is what happens when we’re planning something else.” I am not sure who spoke these prophetic words, but I have found them to be absolutely correct. 

Gatsby lived for the future, and in the end, died having never realized the thing he hoped for and planned for. How many people near the end of life sit on the porch in the rocking chair reflecting on the many things they could have — or should have — enjoyed while planning for retirement? They planned for the future, worked for that future, and missed life.

Friends, life is short and the future is not guaranteed. Enjoy today. Your wonderful life is not somewhere in the distant future, it is today.

To this end, I recently made a career change to spend time with my family. My son and I just completed a thrilling road trip. We rafted down the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge, did nine zip-lines in Colorado, stood in awe in the Garden of the Gods, rode the Cog Wheel Train up the Rocky Mountains to Pike’s Peak overlooking Colorado Springs, and toured Yellowstone Park where we saw the geyser “Old Faithful” erupt. Then, we went on to South Dakota to survey the monument at Mount Rushmore. Along the way, we shared many delightful moments.

In a similar vein, for several years my wife and I had discussed working together rather than pursuing different careers. We made a decision, and today we’re working more closely together and loving every minute. I hope you will consider enjoying each and every moment of your life while you plan for the future. It is true, “Life is what happens when we’re planning something else.”

Are you living ... or planning to live?

Simply stated, it’s good to plan for the future, but don’t live there.

May the coming New Year be the year you live to the fullest daily.

(Tom Bush is business development director for Home Place Real Estate.)