What Really Matters

1. There’s a scene in the 1987 movie Wall Street in which Bud Fox, the main character, is about to be arrested in front of his office. An Old co-worker, Mr. Manheim, takes him by the shoulder and tells him, 
    “Bud I like you, just remember something: Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.” To which Bud replies, “I think I understand what you mean, Mr. Manheim.”

2. The book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is, as its title says, about food. But oddly enough, its most lasting impact on me was not about the problems generated by patronizing McDonald’s. Instead, the book’s most memorable passage to me is one in which Schlosser details his experience at a convention in which Christopher Reeve appeared.
   Schlosser describes how speaker after speaker (all of them of national renown) conveyed their wisdom about making it while at the same time peddling their books and products. The convention had a party atmosphere, complete with fireworks and the Beach Boys blasting through the sound system. But everything stopped when Christopher Reeve appeared on a wheelchair on stage, aided by a respirator. He started elaborating on how he had pursued superficial, conventional dreams through his life, up until his accident. He mentioned making millions at an early age and being selfish and neglectful of his family. Once he had the accident (which as you may recall was a horse riding  fall that left him paralyzed from the neck down), he realized the futility of conventional goals. “None of it matters,” he said.

3. I saw Wall Street over 20 years ago when it first came out, and read Fast Food Nation almost a decade ago. For the most part I had forgotten about both. But recent events made me experience first-hand the meaning of that scene in Wall Street, and remember the paragraph about Christopher Reeve in Fast Food Nation. Thanks to recent events in my life, mistakes I’ve made and changes that have taken place, I saw myself in a position of losing everything I know and love. For a few days I was in the very real possibility of losing it all. It was a real risk, not imagined. Nothing as serious and hopeless as Superman’s incapacity, but a real threat nevertheless.
   When everything is lost or appears to be lost, you very quickly see things with clarity, perhaps for the first time. The pursuits that most of us have are revealed as trivial. A beach house? A Lexus? Fame and recognition? All worth pursuing. Indeed, I’d rather pursue monetary goals than live as a bohemian. But the pursuit of these goals should not be the driving force.
  What really matters at the moment of truth is the most basic: loving your family, giving back to your community, enjoying the moment, having a spiritual life. The moment I realized that I became more driven, more joyful and more appreciative. It might seem counter intuitive, but this realization got me out of the trouble I was in, and put me in the path to real wealth.

15 thoughts on “What Really Matters

  1. Mario,
    Great insight. The majority of the time, I have found that the things that matter most in life are those things that are already in our lives. It's not the new or the flashy that is going to fulfill us. It's cultivating the gifts we have already been given.

  2. Mario,
    Love your analogies from "Wall Street" and "Fast Food Nation" they are very appropriate. It's so easy to get lost in the "stuff" goals and lose track of what we're working so hard for. I feel fortunate in that respect, as a big part of my motivation is to take care of, as well as set an example for, my sixteen year old daughter, Alana.

    Thanks so much for the reminder,


  3. Well done Mario, I thought the illustrations were right on spot. Thank you from reminding us of our mortality.

  4. Mario, thanks for this post as it reminded me of the time I met Mr. Reeves at an event where we were raising funds for the Children's Miracle Network. It's sad sometimes that life has to happen and bring us to a screaming halt where our minds eye starts seeing with crystal clarity. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Hi Mario,

    This is a very powerful post. It really makes you sit back and take stock. I'm not going to say that "stuff" has no importance to me, but I do really try to put family first.

    I stayed home with my children for many years and even homeschooled. It has been very rewarding!

    Mentor Mama

  6. Hey nice post Mario. We as business owners have to set up times that we are going to work so that we can smell the roses along the way. We often learn from others and hopefully most people learn what's most important in their lives sooner than later.

  7. Mario, I love how you took too things which at first seemed unrelated and looped them all together to maximize on their inherent meaning. I loved it!

    Step back and reassess your goals and successes so far. Make sure you're following a grander, more important big picture!

    I love it, Thanks Mario!

  8. Mario‚Ķvery well said. It is commonly said that when people look back over their lives on their death beds their one true regret seems to always be the same–not developing relationships and spending enough time with those they love.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Mario~
    Wonderful post! You said it well! Priorities, it's all about priorities! We must decide what is good and right and move on to enjoy!

  10. Great content, here!

    A goal should bring us closer to our purpose – and that purpose, although must be defined by the individual – should be fulfilling to them and to others equally.

    That is how we find great wealth.

  11. Hey Mario,

    Great post my friend.
    I totally agree that life is all about having a purpose greater than ourselves. I believe it is ok to enjoy the gifts of the world along the way as long as they do not distract you from your core.

    Thanks for sharing this with us all.

    Make it a great day!
    God Bless,

  12. Wonderful post, Mario! Ultimately the gift of ourselves that we can give to others is what brings us our true happiness!
    Thanks for putting this together so eloquently!


  13. Mario. I LOVE your writing, your analogies, to be able to see through the "crap" to what's real. I can just imagine Christopher coming on stage in a wheelchair a midst a quite audience .. "it doesn't matter" as your life as you know it can change in a blink of an eye… wonderful. Very insightful. Keep it up!

  14. Great article.

    You mentioned the fast food society. If we keep that up then no matter how successful we are we won't be able to enjoy it.
    My dad died before he reached retirement.


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