On the 20th, 40th, 60th and 80th levels of Life

At the Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Nanjing
Once, there were two men. They brought an apartment on the highest level – the 80th level – of a condominium. From their apartment, they could see the harbor with bustling cranes and shifting vessels. At night, there would be a pleasing sea breeze and a tapestry of sparkling stars. When the days were clear and bright, they could even see the surrounding islands. They lived the American-Chinese-Singaporean-Almost Everbody’s Dream.

As their apartment was high up in the condominium, they paid a premium for it. And so, they worked hellish hours. One day, after work, they realized that the lift to their apartment weren’t working. They had two choices – to wait for the reparation of the lift or to take the stairs. They discussed briefly and settled on climbing the stairs.

When they reached the 20th level, they were tired and decided to put their briefcases down. After all, they still have many more levels to ascend.

At the 40th level, they took a break. At that time, they complained non-stop. The management was horrible. How could the lift break down? Were they paying maintenance fees for broken lifts? Emails, they would send biting emails once they reach their apartment.

At the 60th level, they no longer complain. They simply kept quiet and tried to move upward.

At the 80th level, they reached their apartment. They searched for their keys in their wallets, their front pockets, their back pockets and their shirt pockets. With a dawning horror, they realized that they left their keys in their briefcases, the very ones that they left on the 20th level.

Do the experiences of these men hold a lesson for us? In life, don’t we sometimes behave like them?

At 20, we put down our dreams. Having a proper job is more important.

At 40, we complain about the wasted opportunities over wine or beer.

At 60, we learn to deal with the vicissitudes of life and keep quiet, keep moving.

And at 80, we look back and realise that we abandon our dreams too early, just too early in life.