Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates. Shakespeare said life is like theatre. My son said it’s more like a roller coaster ride.
I say life is like climbing a long flight of stairs.
Some twenty years ago, I was at the 100-storey World Trade Centre Twin Towers in New York City. Like any other tourist, I was excited about going up to the viewing deck on the 80th floor. From there we can look down on the whole of New York City below.
Unfortunately, the lift to the viewing deck broke down that day and had to be closed for servicing. Nevertheless, I was undeterred and decided to walk up the daunting 80 floors to the viewing deck.
After 20 minutes I reached the lobby on the 20th floor. Here there were many fine restaurants, shops, and there were also public lockers for people to lock their stuff away for a day.
I thought to myself, “Hmm…, I’ve got an idea….” I would lock my knapsack on the 20th floor, and climb up to the 80th floor without the heavy knapsack. After I’ve seen the view from the 80th floor, I would come back down to the 20th floor, and collect my knapsack. That way the climb to the 80th floor would be much easier, and more enjoyable.
“So smart”, I said to myself with a smirk.
Wow… without the heavy knapsack weighing me down, I felt so relieved. So I bounced and sprung up the steps towards the 80th floor cheerfully.
With much effort, I reached the 40th floor. My thighs were numb, my calves were burning, and my feet were crying for mercy. I started to wonder why I’ve decided to climb the stairs. Why couldn’t I just wait a little while for the lift to be serviced or why couldn’t I just go somewhere else, and come back on another day? After all, there was so much to do and see in New York City.
Why? Why? Why?
With these negative thoughts in my mind I trudged up the steps. Agonising all the way, all the time thinking what a fool I was.
I was mentally and physically exhausted when I reached the 60th floor. My head was spinning, my mind blank, and I was completely drained.
At the 60th floor, I told myself, “Look, you have come so far, there’s no point beating yourself up. Why not just enjoy the remaining 20 floors?”
When I finally reached the 80th floor, I was so happy! There it was, in front of me was the entrance to the viewing deck of the tallest building in the world! Even after climbing 80 floors, I still walked with a spring and wore a big smile on my face.
All the aches and pains miraculously disappeared!
As I approached the entrance, a thought slowly crept into my mind. My smile slowly turned into a deep frown… I dug my hands into my pockets, my shirt, my pants, front pocket, back pocket, where is my ticket? I stopped dead in my tracks, and frantically searched my empty pockets for several minutes.
It slowly dawned on me that the ticket was in my knapsack! I had left the ticket in my knapsack which I locked in the locker on the 20th floor!!!
Now at the entrance of the viewing deck, I slowly realised the implication of my folly. Having struggled all the way up the 80 floors to the entrance of the viewing deck, I am going to miss the view because I had left my ticket on the 20th floor!
How sad is that!
Isn’t my stairs journey a lot like life’s journey?
When we were young we carry a knapsack budging with dreams and aspirations.
At age 20, we put our dreams aside, and seek happiness by chasing after money, fame and power.
At age 80, when happiness still eludes us, we look back and it dawns on us that the key to our happiness lies in the dreams that we left behind at age 20. Our dreams are still in the knapsack locked on the 20th floor.
I am sure that you do not want to be like me at the World Trade Centre, leaving your dreams locked away at age 20?
My dear friends open your knapsack, unpack your dreams. Live your dreams. Dreams are the keys to your happiness.
Follow your bliss, and dare to dream. Because only when you live your dreams, will you have no regrets when you are 80!