Whiling away the summer hours lounging with friends in my apartment pool, I try to shift the conversation to my favorite subject – philosophy. Not all of my friends enjoy the reflective life, but usually I can find a subject that piques their interest.
Last summer, one of my favorite discussions concerned the most important traits in deciding whether to date someone. We eventually settled on four – smart, attractive, warm, and personable – although I was surprised that some friends discounted brains.
Last weekend, I stumbled into another interesting discussion when a single, 53-year-old friend expressed great satisfaction with his life. He felt like he had it all – e.g., a prestigious and satisfying job, looks that much younger women found attractive, athleticism that enabled him to compete with college kids in sand volleyball, and excellent social skills. Because he was sounding a little smug, I decided to challenge his sentiment:
- Would he be willing to give up his career and his wealth to be ten years younger?
To my surprise, both of us quickly agreed that we would give up our money and our career in order to have ten more years of life. I suspect there was some hubris in our thinking that we could quickly find responsible, satisfying work in some other capacity, but also it reflects a lack of interest in having wealth.
A few days later, I posed this question to my best friend (60-years old), and he just as quickly declined to move back to being a 50-years old. He had put a lot of effort into accumulating his wealth and was unwilling to accept the ignominy of being 50-years old without any assets.
Yesterday, I posed this question to a couple of drinking buddies. One of them said it was a stupid question that didn’t make any difference or any sense. Instead he wanted to talk about the latest gossip about NFL practices about to begin. I wanted to remind him that the unexamined life is not worth living, but he wouldn’t agree.