Whenever I say that some people do not seem to understand me and others may say me a pessimist or incoherent. But I really mean it. I have observed that reality up close in so many situations and that is in fact what is is.
Often many people have dreams or goals they aspire to achieve but some may not even live to realize those goals or enjoy their fruitful outcomes. For others, just as they reach the peak of the personal or career goals, everything falls apart or tragedy (illness, death, etc) strikes to destroy them or everything they worked for.
The other day, I was listening to the tragic story of the Austrian business mogul of the 20th century, Emil Jellinek who inspired the of name of the iconic “Mercedes Benz and the Jellinek story’s tragic ending. Folowing his successful use and trading of the german automobile, Daimler-Motoren Gesellshaft (DMG), Jellinek negotiated a deal to have the name the Daimler 35 HP with which he had won several racing events, changed to his 11 year old daughter’s, “Mercedes” Jellinek in exchange for a large purchase.
In 1902, Jellinek’s wish was granted and Daimler 35 HP was registered as Mercedes, until the merger between Daimler and Benz in 1926 when it became Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz became a successful brand across were sold across several countries.
The success of the Mercedes brand catapulted Jellinek to massive wealth and an aristocratic lifestyle. But all that came to an abrupt end by the close of the First World War after Jellinek was charged with tax evasion on his properties and espionage. He was later arrested in 1917 whilse in exile in Switzerland, died in 1918 and all his properties confiscated.
Mercedes Jellinek, despite her prestigious childhood and luxurious marriage, wnetvtheiugh two failed marriages, with two children and a life of poverty on the street, died of cancer in 1929 at a young age age 39.
I once spoke to a lady who told me a story about her sister who died in a motor vehicle accident on the day she celebrated her18th birthday, received her driver’s license and married.
I came across an individual who received two prestigious university degrees in high profile professions and embarked on a prestigious career and travelled the globe but all that came to an abrupt end after a truck hit the vehicle he was traveling in one night after work on highway motor. The accident made him totally disabled, a total dependent and poor. He lost his marriage, income, properties and the life he once knew before.
A woman goes to work one work one day was rear ended by a truck and died; a husband and children lost a wife and a mother. A family lost their house to house fire and the father’s attempt to take the family to Disneyland never materialized because he ended up dying in a motor vehicle accident.
These tragic events that happen on a daily basis to ordinary people and we are not unique nor special. Such stories are so close to us every day. Think about the near misses when you crossed the road!
Why are Am I Saying all This?
Life is uncertain, life has no guarantees, life is not perfect and it could be a whole lot worse. Our lives can change in a second and we should know that. We should prepare for life’s uneventialities and NO ONE is immuned to life’s tragic and ugly side. Knowing that our current life can change helps us to be reflective and empathic. The impermanence of life helps us to get less attached to material things and even our families! Enjoy them more while they last because they are also not permanent in our lives. Knowing we have our families, health, ability and wealth temporarily make us more empathetic and loving.
We should plan for the what ifs and learn to adapt to possible new changes that may come our way. If Emil Jellinek could rise to be so wealthy and lose everything, and his daughter Mercedez becoming poor, it tells us that challenges, difficulties and tragedies are not owned by some but all of us. We can fall ill lose our jobs, busineeses, our abilities, our family members and life will not be the same for us.
I am not saying you should not plan or look forward to the future but stories of those who have “everything” that also ended so fast tells me about our common humanity and fragility.
Let us be hopeful but mindful of how we treat ourselves and others near and afar. We need to care for ourselves, live well and responsibly.
June 19, 2020