"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."I used to work in a place where the majority of folks around me knew exactly how many years they had left until retirement. Some of them calculated it down to months, while the most ardent among them were able to count the days.
Almost without exception, they came to work because they had to, not because they wanted to. Conversations with them were punctuated by sighs and distant stares. They hung their shoulders. They sounded defeated. Their faces reflected their voices, no spark, no hope. It soon became quite the chore to be around them without feeling the cloak of their dampened spirit around me.
I'm sure the decor didn't help. Faded, ripped brown and beige cubicles from the Nixon era didn't go well with the worn-down orange carpet squares laid straight over linoleum flooring. If you weren't depressed when you walked into the place, you stood a better-than-even chance of wearing your own dark cloud by the time you walked out.
I eventually decided to leave because I saw my future self reflected in these people. I didn't begrudge them - we all have our own challenges to deal with, after all, and who am I to cast judgment? Nor did I pity them. I simply wanted, nay needed, to avoid going down the same path that they had taken.
It's been a few years since I walked into my lead's office and handed over my resignation letter. It's been an interesting ride since then, complete with its own unique set of challenges, roadblocks and, yes, successes.
Yet at no point have I ever regretted not making the move. Because ever since then I've slowly learned the difference between simply surviving and truly living. I don't waste days counting how many of them are left until I'm done with work. Instead, I start each day with a silent thanks that I've been given another one. If only more among us - maybe my onetime-colleagues - could learn a similar lesson.
Your turn: How do you manage to live your life better?