Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Is it money? Is it a house? Is it a certain career? Is it leaving home? Is it coming home? What is it? What is it the fills the bill; answers the bell; delivers the goods? What makes you happy?

Years ago I read a book by Rabbi Harold Kushner entitled When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough. The title alone caught my attention and at least at that point in my life, the book was a revelation. It’s about just what the title implies. It’s about all the things that we seek with such relentless effort because we believe that finding them will somehow fill the empty spaces and give our lives meaning and contentment.

In his book Kushner recounts the story of Alfred Nobel. Most know that Nobel was the creator of the famous international Nobel Peace Prize. What I didn’t know was how Mr. Nobel came up with the idea for the award. It seems that Alfred Nobel made a vast fortune as an inventor and what he invented was dynamite. Yes, THAT stuff. You know, the stuff that blows other stuff up!

Well, it seems that in his later years Nobel had a life-changing experience. His brother passed away but the press picked it up that he himself was the one who died. Thus, he had the surreal experience of getting to read his own obituary. When he read about his legacy as inventor of the most destructive substance then known to humanity, he realized this did not make him satisfied with his life. It was not enough. So as an answer to his own question of what would really make him happy, he created the famous Nobel Peace Prize and frankly, is much more known for that than his mighty invention.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to presume to tell you what will make you happy. Very few of us have the resources to endow a world changing foundation. Most of our obituaries will not mention big inventions or big ideas. But I think how I want mine to read is that I found what the jazz standard Nature Boy told us back in the 1940s. The tag line of the song says that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just love and be loved in return.” I think if I have found that, then whatever money I make or whatever job I hold will, in fact, be enough.