After listening to your podcasts “Spiritual Schematic for Success” and “Why Aren’t You Where You Wanted to Be?“, as well as several others, I realize how little progress I have made in my life on any of the five “F”s. Until listening to “Bible, Bullets, Batteries and Boys“, I had not conceptualized family and friends as a form of a battery (energy). Your teachings have reawakened my interest in Tanakh and improved my very rudimentary and “rusty” Hebrew!
Although I am a healthy 45-year-old male living in the UK, without any noteworthy complaints or vices apart from procrastination, I have usually taken a generally “happy-go-lucky” approach to life, and as such I have not made much progress in building wealth, building a family and I do not maintain my friendships beyond the joint activity that we are engaged in. After the conclusion of an eight year intimate, but childless relationship last year, I have not made any real attempts at finding a woman to perhaps be my wife.
I do occasionally feel a little lonely, sometimes somewhat “hollow” but I am not sure I am truly unhappy, I do somewhat like the uncluttered, uncomplicated and simplified life. I had previously concluded that I would be without a wife or children, and live an almost nomadic life living wherever my work and interest took me and leave this earth with minimal trace. My question is this, am I self-deluded or am I not, is there another way to serve or please God?
Your insights and advice would be greatly appreciated.
Very best regards,
You ask us to tell you whether you are self-deluded or not. We respect you enough to know that you are not looking for a warm butter massage! You gave us only two options – “self-deluded” or “not”. If we say “No, Ian, you’re not self-deluded”, we’re implying that you’re fine and all is well in your world, and we certainly do not want to tell you that. It isn’t true. On the other hand, neither do we want to tell you that you are self-deluded. That you are deluded is, in our view, without doubt. But we would not say that you did this entirely by yourself.
By using iconic phrases like “leave this earth with minimal trace” and “happy go lucky approach to life” you reveal that to some extent, along with many others, you bought a ‘bill of goods’ from the damaging culture around us all. For nearly half a century, both in the U.S. and the U.K, the culture has been broadcasting a powerful and persuasive message that has shattered normal family life and transformed the civil public square into a dark and frightening nightmare.
Along the way it indoctrinated so many of us to make many, really bad choices in our lives. In the aggregate, many people making bad choices makes for a damaged and declining society. But let’s not blame you for the ills of a broken world, Ian. Let’s rather focus on the extent to which you yourself can recover from you legitimately feeling “a little lonely and somewhat hollow.” Good descriptions, by the way.
Life is funny in three main ways. Firstly, something that almost everyone eventually recognizes is that if they knew back in their formative decade of the ages 13-23 what they now know as mature adults, they would have made some very different decisions. Secondly, we’re tempted to trash tradition instead of venerating it as the set of solutions to problems we haven’t yet recognized. Finally, instinct is a terrible guide for how to organize your life. Doing ‘what I feel like doing’ is an awful way to stay healthy and happy.
We are delighted and relieved that you have already invested time and effort in hearing and reading our teachings on the Five Fundamental Fs. You already know the high esteem in which we hold Happy Warriors. But you have evaded the war and have not yet become a warrior, let alone a happy one. You have been downhill coasting, mostly avoiding the lows but also never achieving any of the highs.
Instinct has lured you into avoiding as many obligations as possible. You might remember from your ‘rusty Hebrew’ that the word for a ‘friend’ is CHAVER. The basis of the word is the word CHAV which means an obligation. Yes, that’s right! A friend is someone to whom you feel an obligation. And life is enhanced by the accepting and discharging of obligations. It goes without saying that the relationship between spouses is as electrifying as it is precisely because of the implicit obligations. And far more importantly than a father creating a child, it is a child that creates a father; someone who is filled with a sense of obligation to his child. Your comment about being in a relationship for eight years without marriage greatly saddened us. We know that being married is no guarantee of lifetime commitment, but for a man to take up eight years of a woman’s life without obligating himself to her is not good for his soul. Even if she insists that she doesn’t want to get married, his acquiescing to that is not good for him.
So here you are, Ian, with the simpler and easier half of your life behind you, but with the wiser half yet ahead. We think you should now determinedly design the rest of your life. Living off your instincts and eschewing tradition thus far has deprived you of really living. You have certainly existed, to be sure. But that gives you no stories to tell your grandchildren. Oh but wait! It also doesn’t give you any grandchildren to tell stories to. You are to some degree content. But contentment can be a terrible thing for a human being. You need to seek joy and growth. Paradoxically, these come not from coasting, but from the glorious struggle that accompanies the pursuing of the Five Fs.
It is not too late to throw yourself into building some wealth, but tomorrow it might well be too late. It is not too late to marry a wife, but tomorrow it might well be. It is not even too late to father a child, but tomorrow it almost certainly will be. It is not too late to purposefully start building friendships, strengthening your body and getting to know God. But tomorrow, it probably will be.
Today is the day. Seize it.
We can hardly wait to hear from you again. Do give us wonderful news.
Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin
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