“I once knew a partner at a large firm who told me this: “I can stand what I’m doing right now, because I’m going to retire at 55.” “And then what?” I asked. “I’m going to live my own life for a change.” Her eyes glistened for a moment on her otherwise exhausted face. “And how many years away is that?” “Eighteen,” she said, her voice sinking. “And when you are living your own life, what will you do?” She looked at me with a mixture of bewilderment and sadness before she finally said in a low voice, “I don’t really know, but I’m sure it will come to me.” “When you were a freshman in college, what did you want to grow up to be?” I asked. Immediately, she said, “I was an English major. I wanted to be a fiction writer.” “Do you write fiction now?” I already knew the answer that would come. “I don’t have time,” she said.
I once knew an executive who checked his portfolios and balances daily, constantly calculating and re-calculating the value of his house, the reserves he would need in the coming years to sustain his lifestyle, how much longer he had to “earn an income,” and on and on. I asked him what he wanted to talk about with me. He said, “I hate my life.” “Why?” I asked. “I am so busy worrying about retirement — I can’t relax.” “Is there anything about your life the way it is right now that you like — that feels rewarding? What are your passions?” He stared at me for a long moment before saying, “No … nothing comes to mind.”
I am sure the reader knows individuals who are caught in this bind, or perhaps the reader knows she is in this bind. It is a common condition, causing great amounts of suffering, depression, anxiety and medication. I call it Preparing to Live Syndrome (PtLS).”