The Tragedy of a Wasted Life


Just a few days ago, a national tragedy happened a little too close to home. Richard Shoop, 20-year-old boy, entered the Garden State Plaza Mall and never intended to leave alive. He shot up the building (without killing anyone) and then shot himself.

Before attending medical school, I lived near this mall. Never in a million years would I have imagined something like this happening. Shootings happen in other places, far away from home. Not in my former backyard.

The tragedy isn’t a kid shooting up a mall. But rather, it is a kid taking of his own life — the waste of such potential. At 20 years old, he is young enough to accomplish anything and to become anyone.

I don’t know why he threw his life away. Maybe he was working in a crap job and saw no hope for the future. (I’ve heard that he was working in a local pizza parlor.) Maybe his “soul mate” broke up with him. Maybe he felt crushed by student loans. Whatever the case may be, he folded his cards way too early.

Your #1 Asset That Would Make Even a Billionaire Jealous

In times of such waste, it would be wise to reflect upon yourself. Maybe you’re in the same boat. You’re stuck with crushing debt, crappy job, and disappointment after disappointment.

Sometimes, you may wonder if you’re better off dead. Before you answer that question, consider this …

You have something that would make even a billionaire jealous. Something that the poor boy failed to see:


Maybe you’re not 20 years old anymore. Maybe you’re older … much older. No matter if you’re 20, 40, or even 60 (or whatever your age may be), you still have your most precious asset.

The following is a short segment from Berkshire Hathaway’s 2013 shareholder meeting …

Station 10: Bill Gross recently said the success of people from his era owed a lot to timing. Do you agree?

Warren Buffett: Being born in the US was a huge advantage. Being born a male was a huge advantage. The timing could have been a little better – my father was a securities salesman, and I was conceived in November 1929, and as you may remember, there weren’t a lot of customers to call and there wasn’t television to watch, so here I am. That led to a decade in which a lot of people were turned off by stocks. We’ve just gone through another. If I’d been born 5 years earlier, I could have made even more money, less if I’d been born 15 years later. I envy the baby born today – on a probability basis, their world will be better than mine, and even the investment world will offer great opportunities. Someone born with a passion for investing today will have great opportunities, and will live a better life than John D. Rockefeller did based upon standards of living.

Charlie Munger: Timing benefitted us, but there’s lots of room for opportunity ahead. I sat for a long time before I acted on investment. You were drowning in opportunities when I first met you.

Warren Buffett: Too bad I wasn’t drowning in money. Now we’re drowning in money and don’t have any ideas.

Station 10 (again): I’m 30, and don’t know what’s ahead. How have you changed over the last 50 years? What advice would you give yourself minus 50 years.

Warren Buffett: I’d trade places with you.

A multi-billionaire would give up everything he has — his money, his fame, his status — to be young again. To have more time. And frankly, so would I. Although I am only several years older than the 20-year-old kid, I would gladly trade places with him — medical degree and all — for a fresh start.

Hope for unlimited possibilities and the time to achieve them are worth more than anything in the world.

Do Not Waste Time

Time is such a powerful resource. Couple it with persistence and you’ll have destiny. Use time to mold yourself into any person you wanna be.

It is funny that those who are going places (or those who are about to die) would value time. Well, you can’t value something unless it is scarce.

As you study successful and powerful men …

As you become successful and powerful …

You will notice a common theme:

There just isn’t enough time.

That is why the rich don’t think twice about dropping stacks of Benjamins to save time. Money is replaceable. Property, assets … all replicable. But time is different. Once it is gone, it is gone.

Right now, it may be easy to take time for granted. It is always there. It has always been there. Until it isn’t. By then, it is too late.

The guy who spends time mindlessly watching TV is only hurting himself.

The guy who is strung out and passed out for days, from a weekend of crack cocaine, is only hurting himself.

The guy who locks himself in his room with his computer, gaming and jacking off is only hurting himself.

The guy who wastes his life will eventually realize the error of his ways. Most likely, it will be too late. He’ll be lying on his deathbed and realizing that his life was wasted. He had dreams, hopes, and ambitions. But instead, he settled for the life of quiet desperation.

What is the difference between a guy who wasted his whole life and Richard Shoop, the 20-year-old who killed himself? If you think about it, there isn’t much of a difference. In both scenarios, you have the tragedies of wasted lives.

When You Meet Your Maker

I’m a Christian. And therefore, I believe that each of us will have to report to God for the way we used what He has given us, including time. This is best explained by the parable in Matthew 25:14-30 …

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Can you justify your life in front of your maker?

Even if you don’t believe in God, at the very least, believe in yourself.

You can either use your time to do great things and to become great. Or you can squander it and remain a nobody, like most of the people out there. Your choice.

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  1. Powerful post Alex!

    Its sad to see a young man at the prime of his life just waste it by killing himself. I can never understand why people will choose death over life? I choose to live no matter what the issues are there is no benefit in killing yourself. I can understand that at times we may feel as if there is no way out, still we must continue to fight tooth and nail and have the scars to prove it! That young man died because he most likely did not have anyone else to guide him or maybe he looked at his life and was not happy. Did he choose to change it? No he killed himself!

    There are many people walking around angry at the world for whatever reason. They go around blaming everyone else for their lot in life when in reality they fail to look to themselves and change their life. I’m not an expert but i learned a long time ago that you are responsible for your life and everything in it. If you hate your life then you need to sit down and review your priorities and see if you need to change them. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV, hating the job you have or life you have you need to stand up and change it that is the only way it will get better.

    No one is going to do that for you!

    Life is not fair nor is it easy!

    Issues that pop up in our lives are just things that help build a mans character. Sure right now the issue seems totally hopeless but in time things will get better. Time is important trust me i try to do many things in my life so that when i look back i can say i really lived and enjoyed my life the good and bad aspects of it!

    Embrace your life! Its the only one you have left!

    I could just imagine what God would have said to this young man. I’m sure whatever he said would have been him ripping a new one on this young man’s ass! Too many people can’t handle anything instead of fighting they lay down like a slave and give up.

    I know a young man who was going that route. His mom kicked him out of the house, his relatives refused to take him in and give him shelter. Don’t know why as he is a good and respectful young man at least to me at least.

    No one gave him a chance.

    Feeling bad for him because i have a conscience, he had nothing but the clothes on his back so me and the wife took him in. We cleaned him up, got him some clothes, fed him and gave him a bed to sleep in! His mind was weak so i sat with him and talked to him like a man talks to another man. I explained why things are the way they were for him and how he could change all of it for the better if he needed to. These talks lasted for hours as i explained the best i could from my experiences as well as what he needed to do as a man.

    Little by little the brother began to rise! Like a tree he slowly progressed upward i was happy that he actually listened to what i was saying to him. Now the brother has a good job, some money in his pocket and now has bought himself a car with his own money. I see this young man doing great things in the future. Although his family and relatives still treat him bad he continues doing his thing and living his life like i told him he should do!

    Unfortunately, that young man who killed himself at the GS mall did not have a male authority figure in his life most likely and if he did he probably was just as weak minded as he was. As men we need to help these younger men and talk to them about life and what is expected of them. Reason being these young men are basically lost as to how to be and act like a man. I believe this man had no one to go to when he had questions or issues about what was going on in his life.

    Another life wasted and we like to think that we are civilized! We have a long way to go!

    Peace Alex!

    • Alex Ding says:

      Great comment as always, bro!

      Lots of people would have said, “Someone should do something for the poor kid.” But you actually went out and did something.

      I really respect what you’ve done for the young man. You most likely prevented a tragedy, like the one from Monday.

      Keep up the good work!

  2. Great article and a valuable lesson for life.

    There are hundreds of resources that aren’t scarce:

    money – it “lies on the street” as they say.
    women – half of the planet is female

    But -everyone- on this earth only has 24 hours a day.
    The poor guy in the gutters – 24 hours
    The rich-as-fuck investment banker – 24 hours

    Quite a revelation if you think about it.

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