It was a Saturday morning. The last day of June in 2018. I was out for an early morning run. Actually, I wasn’t running. I was fast-walking with a 40-pound pack. I was on about mile 4 or 6 when something on the ground caught my eye. When I run, or walk, I look down at the ground. I find stuff all of the time. It’s mainly things like nails, tools, pennies, cool rocks, etc. On this morning though, it sparkled. I stopped, bent down, and there was a diamond ring. It had been run over many times, but a very small diamond was still in its setting. I picked it up and slid it on my pinky finger. I then continued my run as well as contemplating the thought I was having before I was distracted by the ring.
Although I do believe in God and Jesus, I don’t care for the man-made parts of religion. In fact, when I talk about things of a “spiritual nature” I prefer to just call it the Universe. Feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t ask me to converse on this issue because I won’t. You do you, and I’ll do me. Or to put in terms I am more used to using, everyone should hike their own hike. Let’s move on.
I once read a book The Alchemist. In it, the author tells a story about how the Universe will put Omens (read this as clues and signs) in your path to let you know you are on the right or wrong path. Personally, I see and find signs all the time that I believe was presented to me by the Universe. Perhaps the ring I mentioned a while ago was one of them; a real diamond in the rough.
The thought I was having when I discovered the ring was about the depression many adventurers and explorers have late in life.
I consider Ernest Hemmingway to be one of the greatest adventurers and storytellers of all time. I know much about his life and his death. I’ve visited his gravesite in Ketchum, Idaho. A few weeks ago, another adventurer named Anthony Bourdain met the same fate as Hemmingway when he too took his own life. Both of these men led a life that is much like the life I want to live. That scares me a little.
The anticipation of future adventure is a key driver in my life. That, and curiosity is what pushes me to venture often outside of my comfort zone. In a few weeks, I will have an amazing high-altitude adventure with my daughter and niece. When asked why I do things like mountain climbing my answer is simple. Curiosity. I will explain that some other day.
So back to what I was talking about. What happens when a person who has led a life of high-adventure reaches a point to where they are running out of new challenges and mountains to climb; literally and figuratively? I’m going to have to think about that. Let me switch gears for a minute.
I once read that the reason God created man was because He (God) was omnipotent. To be omnipotent means that you have complete and total control over everything and with these “powers” you have the ability to create perfection instantly. So imagine for a moment that you are omnipotent. Every single thing in your world is in balance, harmony and perfect. Got it? So now let me ask you this question, where is the fun in that? What is the meaning of your life? You have nothing to work towards or improve. All you do is just exist inside of perfection; you are as good as you can be and ever will be. To finish the thought I began with, because God was bored and needed a “project” he created man and intentionally made him imperfect; free will. We’re all just fixer-uppers. (Note to self: Create a self-improvement TV show and call it Fixer-Upper. Additional note to self: Get attorney on standby to respond to Chip and Joanna’s attorney).
Now back to Hemingway and Bourdain. I wonder if the reason they both took their own life was that they felt that they had reached a peak from which there was really no other place to in which to ascend? In other words, they had created something so great that they simply decided there was no way to top what they had already done, and because of that life no longer had value. Please don’t get me wrong, in no way am I drawing a parallel between, Hemingway, Bourdain, and God. I am just saying that maybe curiosity, and having something to work on and look forward to really is an essential part of a happy life. Hemmingway and Bourdain saw and did much while on this earth. Maybe the depression they experienced came from knowing that they had a reached a point in life where they were running out of new challenges, and fears to face and conquer. Is this a real struggle for all people who consistently challenge themselves to be better?
Another possible explanation for depression in larger-than-life people is that it takes continuous hard work and drive to stay in a constant state of elevation. Because of this, maybe people like Hemingway and Bourdain see death as a way to escape the continual work necessary to achieve new and bigger milestones. That said, but isn’t the very essence of people like Hemingway built around living life to the fullest? If that’s true then why end your own life? I’m confused? At this point, I have more questions than answers. I think I have a real paradox on my hands. Speaking of the word paradox, maybe the best explanation is using the paradox know as Occam’s Razor; maybe they were both just ready for some rest.
So, to bring this story back to the place where it started. That was the thought I was having yesterday when I found the ring. Perhaps the Universe is telling me that I am on to something with this line of thinking. Perhaps this line of thinking is a warning sign. We’ll see.
In the book The Alchemist, it says that the Universe has already written the future and if the Universe reveals the future to anyone, then that future when originally written by the Universe, was written with the intent of being altered. Wow! That’s deep. Pay attention to signs and omens because the Universe is counting on you to be an active participant in changing the future; or rather your future. The Universe really does want us to have that which we seek. It conspires in our favor.
Before I end, I once heard that the three essential elements to a happy life are hard work to keep you busy, something to look forward to, and someone to love. I think the key word in number 3 is Someone. Life is a state of being. So loving Life is not enough. It’s people. One more thing. I used to measure wealth based on possessions you can buy with money. I was wrong. I think real wealth is created by developed relationships with others. I’ll end there.
PS – Why the title Diamond in the Rough? Think back or read a few paragraphs back. That we are all diamonds in the rough is what makes life worth living. Be thankful for imperfection. As for me, I think the lyrics of the song best describe me, “Hey I’m just an old chunk of coal, but i’m gonna be a diamond some day.” – I think John Anderson wrote that song.
PPS – I hope you Find Your Adventure and always Live Your Life.
Although I wrote this on July 1st, I did not publish it until August 25th.