Dont Just Go Through Life But Live It
Pause to think about life as the years flow under the bridge
MANUAL works 30 years without stopping, educates his children, gives them a good example, devotes his entire time to work, and never asks: “Is there truly any meaning to what I am doing?” He only concerns himself with the thought that the busier you are, the more important you become in the eyes of society.
His children grow and leave home, he is promoted at work, one day he is given a clock or a pen as a reward for all the years of dedication, his friends shed some tears, and the long- awaited moment arrives: he can retire, be free to do whatever he wants! During the first month, he decides to go and visit every other office where he has worked over the years, talking with old friends, and giving himself the pleasure of doing something he always dreamed of: waking up later. He goes for walks on the beach or in town, goes to his country house that he bought with the money he earned, he finds he enjoys gardening, and is slowly penetrating the mystery of the plants and flowers.
Manuel has time, all the time in the world. He travels with his wife, using some of the money they scraped together.
They visit museums, learn and see in two hours what painters and sculptors from different eras took centuries to develop, but at least he feels cultured. He takes hundreds, thousands of pictures and sends them to friends — after all, they need to know how happy he is! More months go by. Manuel learns that gardens do not follow the same exact rules that men do — what was planted will take time to grow, and there is no use trying to see if the bush has flower buds sooner than the bush itself decides to grow them.
IN A moment of sincere reflection, he discovers that everything he saw on his travels was simply a landscape outside the bus he was on, monuments that are now stored in 6x9 photos, but in fact he felt no particular emotions when he viewed them — he was more concerned with telling his friends about the magical experience of being in a foreign country.
He still watches all the television news, reads all the newspapers now instead of just one (because he has more time than before); he is considered to be an extremely well- informed man, able to discuss things that he had not had time to study before.
He looks for someone to share his opinions with, but they are all immersed in the river of life, working, doing something, envying Manuel’s freedom, but preferring instead to be happy being useful to society, to be “ busy” with something important at all times.
Manuel seeks comfort from his children.
They always treated him with great affection — after all, he was an excellent father, an example of honesty and dedication — but they have other concerns and things happening in their lives. Still, they consider it a duty to attend the luncheon he hosts every Sunday.
Manuel is a free man in a reasonable financial situation; he is well- informed, and has an impeccable past, but now what? What should he do with this hardwon freedom? Everyone greets him with praise, but nobody has time for him. Little by little, Manuel begins to feel sad and useless — despite many years serving the world and his family.
One night an angel appears in his dream.
“What have you done with your life?” asks the angel. “Have you tried to live it according to your dreams?” Manuel wakes up in a cold sweat. What dreams? This was his dream: to have a diploma, marry, work hard, have children, educate them, retire, travel. Why is the angel asking this nonsense? Another long day begins: the newspapers, the news on TV, gardening and lunch.
He will sleep a little, do what he wants and at certain moments he finds that he does not feel like doing anything. Manuel is a free man, and a sad one, he is one step away from depression, because he was too busy to think about the meaning of his life as the years flowed under the bridge.
Remember the lines of a poem, “went through life / not lived”? But because it is too late to accept it, it is better to change the subject. The freedom, gained after so much struggling, will not be exiled in disguise....