Old, Alone and Broke

I read a memoir of a man who was born in poverty and achieved unimagined wealth at a young age. He also burned out young and left the world of capitalism, competition and the constant drive for love via success: “If I am successful, people will love me.”

He hired a psychologist to help him understand himself, began to eat healthy foods and learned meditation from spiritual advisers around the world. After he figured life out for himself, he now lives out a great life.

I am often skeptical of those who take the spiritual road after getting rich (or to get rich) along with pride and arrogance in my journey’s more humble beginnings.  After a good start to my adult life, I crashed and my spiritual quest began in the depths of alcoholism and a month in a tough treatment center where I wondered if I would ever be able to create a good life.

Twenty years later, after a successful corporate career, I left the organizational world to go out on my own to use my life as a learning laboratory and to “live a life of emotional, spiritual and intellectual adventures and to share what I learned with others.” I also wanted to take part in a leadership movement I was sure would transform the way we lead, follow and work in organizations.

Along my journey, I made a stop on the side of a mountain near Ouray, Colorado where I lived, read, wrote, consulted and thought for a year. After I arrived on the mountain, I was flooded with anxiety and feared I would end up old, alone and broke (see my post, Did I Do the Right Thing?).

Old age approaches now—it scares me and I am glad to be alive. I’m not alone and I’m not broke. I have a wonderful life and my development continues with as much intensity at almost 70 as it was when I came out of the treatment center at 29. I’ve studied and made proactive and anticipatory changes in my life over the years and I’ve also learned from losses and mistakes along the way. I expect I will continue that learning for the rest of my life. I grow spiritually a bit at a time and become more human as I seek physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual health (a lot harder than it sounds). I am still learning to live and haven’t figured much out other than how small I am in the cosmos and how little I know.

And my sometimes disdain towards those fellow travelers who get rich first and then turn spiritual says the most about me:

I have more work to do.

5 thoughts on “Old, Alone and Broke

  1. It takes courage, maturity and humility to admit that you have more work to do, Tom — but the truth is, we all do. The wisest among us (like yourself) know that there is no such thing for a human being as having “arrived,” because life really is about the journey. Now, about this old age stuff: You are among the most vital and alive people of *any* age I am privileged to know! Your body will continue to age, as we all inevitably must, but the essence of who you are will never truly grow old, as long as you’re curious about the world, eager to make it better, and continuing to look inwardly for ways to grow. OK. I’ll get off my soapbox now. But a huge thanks for the shot of inspiration!

  2. The day we stop learning is the day we die.  Judy From: Tom’s Thoughts To: spiritwalker63@sbcglobal.net Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 8:13 AM Subject: [New post] Old, Alone and Broke #yiv4958877675 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4958877675 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4958877675 a.yiv4958877675primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4958877675 a.yiv4958877675primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4958877675 a.yiv4958877675primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4958877675 a.yiv4958877675primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4958877675 WordPress.com | Tom Heuerman posted: “I read a memoir of a man who was born in poverty and achieved unimagined wealth at a young age. He also burned out young and left the world of capitalism, competition and the constant drive for love via success: “If I am successful, people will love me.”” | |

  3. I’m with you, Tom… and almost 10 years older (with body aging in some more visible and painful ways than when I was “almost 70”) than you.
    What keeps me feeling most alive is the reality of the possibility to change/evolve through EVERY thought, feeling, word, action in EVERY moment of my living — however many more moments that might be! I am aware that this is a living legacy, as my friends and colleagues tell me they feel inspired to do the same for themselves.
    Thank you for your sharing of your self/Self and your process, which is your living legacy (one of them) I have been and am inspired by!
    In loving spirit, Eleanor

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