I hate being sick. I’ve spent the past ten days living under the oppressive regime of a cold. Lethargic and irritable, I boarded my flight to Manila. The natural high I normally get from traveling was absent. It was an important week. I was in Manila to implement a restructuring plan. I had to meet with my management team, decide on a strategy and then execute it all in a few short days.
Fortunately very little else required my attention. I was blown away by the improvement in our operations. It’s been a few months since I was last in Manila and Joan, Ben and Charles have built well oiled machine. We’ve got a big office that employs 110 people, processes payroll, taxes, benefits, manages hiring, training, firing and daily operations. After a day in the office I turned to Joan, “I could never have built this,” I said. I really couldn’t have. Our office in Los Angeles is a total startup operation – exposed wires, no formal payroll, phone lines run through our computers. What we have in Manila is a real company. It feels like a corporation that has been in business for five years, instead of five months.
I spent the week working and sleeping intermittently. My lungs were filled with phlegm. My energy levels were low. But I focused on the essentials and got everything done that needed to be done. In the process I developed a sensitivity for those among us who are in perpetual pain. Sick or injured, a huge percentage of the world suffers everyday, as I did for the past week. My own Dad is handicapped. As he has aged his conditioned has worsened and these days he seems to be constantly in pain.
I could not live like this. Even if the minor cold I had for the past week were deemed a constant condition I would choose to commit suicide. This may seem dramatic, abrupt, even a bit spoiled and perhaps it is. Look, I love life. But I love living life, no persevering it. Of course there are ups and downs and perseverance can lead to life’s greatest rewards. In this context I persevere more than most. But the kind of pain and suffering I am talking about it constant, endless and brings no balancing highs. The sickness of a terminal cancer patient. The chronic back pain of cripple. The endless depression of someone who refuses anti-depressants. In every case there is a choice and for me the choice is clear. A life of endless pain and suffering is not a life worth living.