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December 23, 2013

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

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.

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