When Life Becomes Normal Again: Existing vs. Living

Lent and Easter are a special time for me. It’s a time of re-birth.

I’ve written in the past about a rough patch in my life in my early-20s. I had everything you’re “supposed” to have: a fancy job, an obscenely high salary, many friends, a girlfriend. I had a nice apartment in mid-town Manhattan. I had just graduated college with a fancy Ivy League degree.

But, I lived for myself.  It was all work, work, work. If I wasn’t pulling all-nighters, I didn’t get home until 11 pm or so.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Working hard is a good thing. But, I didn’t feel that my job in finance actually had any meaning for me. And, the harder I worked at a job I hated, the more selfish, brittle and narcissistic I became. I felt that I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be.

I felt that I was existing but not living. I was stuck.

It was then that I started going back to Church. I distinctly remember the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a particularly haunting Good Friday service at a parish near Columbus Circle. I started to ask some questions.  Would I die for someone else? And, if Someone Without Sin died for me, how could and should I respond?

The implications of these questions propelled me to make some tough choices.  I decided to quit my job, break up with my girlfriend, and move to Boston. I gave notice to my employers in the spring, months in advance, so that they would have plenty of time to recruit someone. They rewarded me with a $0 bonus. I needed the money, but it seemed like a do-able price to pay.  I wanted out.

And, life became normal again.

So, spring and Easter each year remind me of my re-birth.  I’m so grateful that I met my now-wife a few months after arriving in Boston. I’m grateful that I have healthy children and a job that I love. Some days are great, and some days suck. But, my life is full of meaning.  And, that makes all the difference in the world.

A Happy Easter to all.

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