I Win at Life. Is This Everything It Has to Offer?

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
– Ecclesiastes 1:2

The other night, I stepped out of the house into the yard. I took a deep breath. The salty ocean scent filled my lungs. The water crashed against the docks. The pale moon revealed the outlines of the waves. And the gentle summer breeze caressed my face.

It was a good night — a typical night.

After work, I head towards the beach. I take off my shirt, showing off a body forged by 6 days a week of working out. I soak up two hours of the sunset. My skin kissed bronze by the sun. I walk along the shore a bit further than I should. And then I run back in the dark, hopefully before being swallowed up by the high tide. That’s the most exciting moment in my day.

I think about how blessed I am. Being outside — especially when I am by the ocean — makes me happy.

Then sadness overtakes me because the only things that makes me happy is being outside. The rest of my life no longer brings happiness.

I’ve beaten the game of life in my very early 30’s. I can possess anything I want that can be bought. I can see how the rest of my life will play out. My wealth, knowledge, and status will climb up and up.

And I ask, “Is this it?”

As a child, many things made me happy: food, things, girls, money, and knowledge. Now, they don’t mean much to me.

Everything is meaningless.

Food

When I was a child, my family was not well off. Thus, going out to eat was such a treat. I still remember turning 6 years old. My family celebrated my birthday in Pizza Hut. I was so excited for the whole day leading up to the event. And then at night when we drove to the restaurant, I was sitting on the edge of car seat, giddy with anticipation. I felt so happy eating the greasy pan-fried pizza.

As I got older, my tastes became more refined. I went from fast food to diners to mom & pop restaurants to upscale eateries. The amount I spent per meal increased, but my happiness remained the same.

Not long ago, I threw away $200 for lunch on a lazy Saturday afternoon at a 5-star steakhouse by the beach. The view was spectacular. The company was entertaining. But I was not as happy compared to my 6-year-old self.

I’ve reached a point in life when people are wining and dining me at the best restaurants. They pay for everything. All I need to do is to accept the invitation. And yet, I only attend a fraction of the events.

I no longer get immense joy from food. I eat steak and seafood pretty much every week. I could eat them every day, but then I would tire of them.

Surprisingly, the food that brings me the most satisfaction are cold watermelon or cold oranges. These days, my dinner (and sometimes my only meal) consists of a few pieces of fruit.

I guess the advantages of falling out of love with food is reduced caloric intake. When combined with calisthenics, they help me maintain a beach body year round.

Everything is meaningless.

Things

The thing that brought me the most happiness was my first bicycle. It was a yellow and black bad-ass ride. My grandfather bought it for me when I was 8 years old. I rode it around the block every day.

I didn’t know how to ride a bike without training wheels. But I didn’t care. I kept riding and falling until I got it. And once I learned how to ride that beast, I biked every day.

I even formed a group of kids who loved biking as much as me. The “gang” consisted of me and several girls. We rode bikes after getting out of school until the dinnertime.

The last time I really had to own an item was during high school. Before then, I never owned a video game console. After my dad bought the Playstation console, I could not wait to get home, open the box, and connect it to the TV.

Playstation kept me entertained until I went to college. It gave me 4 entertaining years of gaming.

After college, I made my own money and bought my first gaming computer. I plopped down $1,500 for that baby. I spent another 4 years in front of that machine, to game and to work — but mainly to game.

I was happy to own that computer, but it wasn’t the same as owning my first video game console.

I then bought Playstation 2 for one reason: to play Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I lost interest in the console after beating the game and have not turned it on since.

These days, I don’t care much for things. I procrastinated on learning how to use my iPhone. I just couldn’t be bothered. (Now I know how the iPhone works, it truly is an amazing device.) I bought a new laptop and did not take it out of the box for a month.

I never had a desire to own things. I’ve been living out of a suitcase ever since college. I can fit everything in my room in the back of a compact car and move.

Whatever I lack, I can buy. But buying things doesn’t make me happy.

Everything is meaningless.

Girls

Since puberty hit, girls captivated me. I loved to be around them and to interact with them. When a cute girl smiled at me or said “hi” to me, my world lit up for the day. That is the power they had on me.

I totally understand Bruno Mars’ song, Young Girls, when he said:

All you young wild girls
You make a mess of me
Yeah, you young wild girls
You’ll be the death for me, the death for me
All you young wild girls
No matter what you do
Yeah, you young wild girls
I’ll always come back to you, come back to you

This was the case during my teens and 20’s. The hold girls had on me was stronger than anything else. Truthfully, they were my goddesses. Partly it was because of their beauty. Partly it was because of the stirring of my hormones. But the largest part was because I thought they were the gateway to the ideal love all men desire — loyalty and unconditional love. A type of love that I now realize a woman can only give to her child.

In my teens and 20’s, I believed in ideals. I could make the world a better place. I could become rich effortlessly. I could get an everlasting unconditional love from a beautiful girl.

Ever since Helen’s betrayal, I know the female nature like the back of my hand. I had a suspicion about the female nature before, but I thought not all women were like that. I still remember my month pleading for Helen to stay. I said, “You’re supposed to love me and get my back no matter what.” And she responded, “What does that mean? I’ll help you if you need help. But I can’t offer anything more.”

At the time, I thought she purposely avoided giving me unconditional love. But now I see that she cannot give it. A girl cannot love in the same way as a boy.

Once my dream for ideal love from a girl evaporated, the allure girls had also evaporated.

It’s funny how life works. When I care the least, I have them in abundance. There are more beautiful young girls around me than ever before — even more than when I was in college. Thin girls with long hair wearing short shorts and tank tops, kissed by the sun.

I notice when girls get close to me and then steal glances at me from the corner of their eyes. They make the effort to talk to me first. Gorgeous girls tell me, “I like you.” Women stop me in the middle of the road just to talk.

Depending on my mood and how good they look, I might playfully banter back and forth. If they are attractive enough, I’ll go for the close. I get a girl’s number just to delete it because following up takes too much work.

If they are not attractive, I’ll just smile and engage in polite chit chat before walking away.

My young self would love to be where I am today. And yet, I am unfazed. Unmotivated to pursue anything beyond the superficial.

At the end of the day, I don’t get any happiness from the interactions. I cannot see myself tied down to anyone long-term. Should I waste time and effort when knowing how everything will end — badly?

Relationships run in a predictable cycle — no matter her color, education, social class, or looks. The initial attraction. The honeymoon stage. The little fights. Then drama. Eventually, it progresses to daily fights and drama. I then get fed up and tell her to find someone else. Or she finds someone else before I tell her to.

The coming together and parting get easier and easier to endure with each cycle.

I rarely take girls out on dates anymore. If I do, it will be a very expensive date at a very nice place. Not because I want to impress her, but because I want to visit a restaurant and do not want to go alone. I would order the best of the menu, essentially more food than two people can finish, and have the girl take home whatever is left over.

At the end of the day, girls don’t make me happy because they can’t offer loyalty and unconditional love. (Thus, between their inability to give me happiness and my lack of desire for kids, I will very likely not get married. This will make becoming rich so much easier.)

One of my mentors, someone I really admire, is my role model. He’s alpha. He’s dominant. He’s intelligent. He’s ripped. He’s business savvy. At his prime, he made over a million a year. Still brings in very, very good money. Married for 20+ years. And is being ripped to shreds in divorce court.

The years with Helen, when I thought I had an ideal love, were one of my happiest times in the past 10 years. But as my mentor and I learned, do not expect loyalty and unconditional love from a woman.

Everything is meaningless.

Money

When I was a child, my goal was to make $100,000. Because it was six-figures, it was by default a lot of money. It was more money than I could imagine at the time. What can’t you buy with $100,000.

Then in college, I decided to be an entrepreneur and investor because that’s how you make real money — passive income. Thank you, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

I tried to achieve my goals. I started a business and did all the wrong things. I pivoted into investing. I struggled.

After years of trials and errors and mistakes, I’m nearing the end of my struggles.

I make more money from my job than I can spend. (I recently paid off one of my stupid student loans in one shot.) Soon, the money I’ll make in one year will be enough to live on for 10 years — way surpassing my childhood goal.

On top of that, my multiple streams of income bring in money every day. Passive income.

I remember the first time I made money on the internet. I designed a few t-shirts and people bought them. I received a check for around $50 and was so excited. I proved to myself that you can make money on the internet.

I sold my first online product years later. I didn’t have to lift a finger and product was exchanged for money, which appeared in my bank account. I said, “Cool.” I was satisfied and saw potential to scale up.

Then sales came pretty frequently. Same system — scaled up. Passive income became the new baseline. These days, when I make a sale, I think nothing of it. It no longer brings me happiness. I’m not even aware when I make a sale now.

I’ve started a new business. And when I made my first sale, I didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t happy. I was frustrated instead, because I had to do a bit more work fulfilling the order.

I spend about an hour a day on my new business because I lost the drive and motivation to do any more. I’m getting bored. I’m thinking of winding down the business.

Being a multi-millionaire is inevitable. Minimalist lifestyle, no wife (hence greatly reduced expenses), working until I’m dead making top 1% income, and compounded investments year after year. But I know those won’t mean anything because a rich lifestyle will be my new baseline.

Everything is meaningless.

Knowledge

My 20’s were a period of great struggle and great joy. I fought my way up for top dog position. And along the way, I met many mentors (both directly and indirectly) who opened my eyes to the the possibilities in the world.

I got lost for days learning and soaking up knowledge. My brain was a dry sponge and knowledge was water. I learned about investing, entrepreneurship, girls, power, medicine, copywriting, writing, and law.

I loved being blown away something new. Heck, I own a library and can recall everything each book taught me.

Knowledge satisfied me for a decade. I now rarely encounter anything new. My mentors say the same old things. Non-fiction books contain the same old things.

I rarely read anymore because I can hardly find anything that teaches me something new.

That’s why I write even though it yields low financial rewards, gravitating more towards stories than facts. Because at least stories could be something no one has ever heard before. Maybe writing will give my life happiness, however brief the happiness my last.

Everything is meaningless.

Conclusion

And this realization — the meaningless of everything — brings great sorrow to my heart. As a baby, the world is new and exciting. Now, it is predictable and bland. I won the game of life and it has no replay value.

What is next after getting in peak physical shape, amassing wealth, achieving high status, becoming highly educated, and having more knowledge & wisdom than most?

I don’t know.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

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Comments

  1. Yes. Most things are meaningless. Things only have value if you give it to them. But the ability to create, in my opinion gives the most value. The autonomy to do what you want with your time and abilities has the most value. Meaningful relationships that encourage growth have the most value. Or maybe they don’t. But you have to choose whether theg do or don’t. Stick with writing, I think that may be your next phase on the path to CREATE meaning.

    • Alex Ding says:

      You’re onto something with creation being a source of enjoyment in life.

      I think there are 2 things that give us happiness:

      – work
      – relationships

      And creation would fall under the work category.

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