There’s an elderly gentleman I see almost every day when out and about. He is also out and about, with a purpose. His purpose is to show people that he is right. I like to call him “the man who was always right”. He can be seen daily walking out by the pier, in dress shoes and semi formal wear. He looks to be about seventy I would guess, and his attire suggests to me that he has not really relaxed into retirement. Perhaps he never will. He has something to prove first.
If you stop and talk with the old gentleman, he will tell you his story. He had a few successful businesses, of note. You will recognize the name of the chains and his eyes will light up. He set up his kids financially, though he does not seem to have a relationship with them. He likes to tell you how much money he made. He also notes with some derision that he has gone through a few wives and has cut them both loose. The last one, he likes to emphasize, reinforces in his mind what a great idea divorce is. He hasn’t a single regret, and he is there by the day, telling people about it.
Seeing him troubles me on some level because I suspect he’s not as happy or free as he claims. He is somewhat of a lost soul, needing the audience of strangers to showcase the path of right he has trod in his lifetime. He made all the right choices. He made money. He found love, and gave it up when it was found wanting. He hasn’t looked back. That is why he is out here every single day…. alone.
The elderly gentleman was never wrong it seems and that is likely the problem. He is still never wrong which is why I suspect he will be out here as long as time and health permits, doubling down on his mission.
I am not like the old gentleman, at least I hope not. I am about as average as average can be. I have had my ups and my downs, sometimes enjoying success, and at other junctures, basking in some spectacular failures. There is no doubt in my mind that I have been wrong, on more than a few occasions. The bumps in my road only reinforce that.
The difference between me and the old gentleman, is that I generally have some company. My wife and I, in the time we have been together, have enjoyed the realization that we are sometimes flawed and inadequate and someone else occasionally needs to tell you that. We can be wrong in tandem. I suspect very few people in the world are truly right all the time. Being married if nothing else, accords some humility. Over time, you will have to learn to say “I’m sorry”, and “I forgive you”.
It’s not as bad as the old man thinks. It is better that way, I am sure. Being flawed is pretty common to the human condition. Those who understand this walking through life, will find themselves in better company. In fact, you will almost never find them walking alone.