Many years ago I had lunch with a dear friend and former coworker who confided that he had finally fulfilled all of his goals. Bruce was only thirty-five, but even so, he was sure that his happiness was complete. A few months earlier he had opened his own graphic design business in a newly-renovated condominium located in a trendy, though still "changing" neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Even better, he had quit drinking once and for all and had reconciled with his wife after their painful two-year separation. Jokingly he said, "Now I can die happy." As it happened, three days later on a sunny Friday afternoon as the couple was busy moving some of Bonnie's things into the apartment, they were both murdered in a home invasion robbery.
I've tried hard to lose that memory, or at least pack it away in a far recess of my brain, but it pops out whenever I hear someone say they have "fulfilled all their goals." It did so today when I read about a young Dutch mountaineer named Eric Arnold whose lifelong goal was reaching the summit of Mt. Everest. He finally achieved it last Friday at age thirty-six, after three previous failed attempts. His joy was short-lived as he died on the descent from altitude sickness.
Make of it what you will, but suddenly I feel quite fortunate to still have so many unfulfilled goals.