By Jacob Parker, First Full-Time, Non-Founder Hire at Eterneva
I lost my mom when I was 11 to a tragic accident.
I had no idea before that moment that:
I wouldn’t have my mom for many years to come.
I’d lose her at such a young age, that I wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye.
My last words to her would be ones I regret to this day.
I was 11. I took life for granted, like most of us sadly do.
These days, I continue to wrestle with a question that came up then, and that comes up for so many of us at different points in our lives: What’s the meaning of life?
“It’s a question that’s been asked a billion times, and one that echoes in eternity.”
Yes, I stole that from Gladiator!
In all seriousness, that question is based on subjectivity. There is no definitive answer. That means, of course, that there is no real wrong answer, which is pretty incredible!
And as I’ve been thinking more and more about this question for the last 18 months of my life, I thought I’d toss my proverbial hat in the ring and take a shot myself to put my stamp on this timeless question.
The Path to Meaning is Riddled with Poker (For me, at least!)
Like many of you, I’ve thought about this question a lot throughout my life. I’ve never had a good answer or anything substantial to tell anyone asking, especially not to tell myself, which is kind of scary.
That has changed over the past 18 months. What changed, in particular? I started working at Eterneva.
Now, I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole of how I ended up at this company, but I think it’s important to know.
Before Eterneva, I was working at a startup for several years. That company was then bought by a larger company, which I remained with for 18 months until I was eventually part of a layoff.
It wasn’t that big of a shock, honestly. I was already looking at new opportunities. While no one likes getting let go or laid off, I wasn’t that upset.
The timing felt a bit off, though. I had just gotten married two weeks prior to getting a phone call and being given the news.
Nonetheless, the layoff didn’t induce any panic given I was already looking for other opportunities. But it did sort of a light a fire under me to find something. Unfortunately, nothing jumped out. Everything seemed, well, sort of like what I had been doing: another job I was good at sure, but found no larger meaning in.
So, I spend five months instead playing poker, which luckily I’m pretty good at. With those winnings, I was able to supplement income and wait for the perfect opportunity, which allowed me to get very, very picky.
Finally, I had a call with an amazing recruiter about a new job –– one that sounded exciting enough to pull me away from my new poker life.
How long could I pull in income this way, anyway?
Wasn’t I supposed to have a job you’re proud to talk about over the holidays?
I decided to go on an official interview.
The Day My Poker Face Let Me Down, and My Curiosity Got The Better of Me
The interview was going great until the interviewer –– and my potential new boss –– asked me why I wanted to work there.
I was caught.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know it was a horrible answer. Why? Because I didn’t want to work there. Not really.
The next day, I got an email from the recruiter saying they loved me, but didn’t think I’d be happy there.
They were spot on, and I was back to poker.
But then, that same recruiter posted about a new role with her husband’s company “Eterneva” on LinkedIn.
Curious, I clicked her link, then poked around the site and Googled everything there was to know about Eterneva for a few days.
I couldn’t get enough.
I loved everything about the company and what they were doing.
My only hesitation was in thinking about how emotional the job would be.
That lead to some deeply honest conversations with myself on whether or not I could handle it.
In the end, I decided that, yes, I was strong enough to at least explore the opportunity. After all, nothing else was jumping out at me –– and I didn’t want to be playing poker for my income forever.
I applied, commented on the post and Garrett, the co-founder, got in touch with me.
I was blown away in my interview with both co-founders Adelle and Garrett. This wasn’t just a job to them or just a way to make money.
For them, it was a calling.
It was a mission.
And it was so incredibly clear how important it was to them.
I could see their passion, their humility, and their integrity in everything they said!
So, after an extensive three week interview process, I was offered the first position outside of a founder at Eterneva, and happily accepted!
Finally Answering That 11-Year-Old’s Question
It’s been 18 months since that job acceptance, and since, I’ve spoken to the most amazing people that are honoring remarkable loved ones and remarkable pets. I’m even growing a diamond to honor my Boston Terrier Miss Piggy, who I wrote about when I first started.
After all this time with Eterneva, I feel I now have an answer to what the meaning of life is, something I’ve been searching for since age 11.
Now, I don’t want to sound cliche and, no, I’m not reinventing the wheel with my answer, but here she goes…
The meaning of life (to me) is surrounding yourself with people that you love and doing things that actually mean something to you.
Now, what here’s a new question: once you know the meaning of life, how do you change the way you live to honor and respect it?
The Wisdom to Know the Difference
We all have people and pets in our lives that we love, that we cherish, that mean the world to us, but do we treat them like that every day?
The sad answer is we probably don’t.
That’s because we get fooled into thinking we have unlimited time with them until they get to an old age.
I wish everyone that we love was able to live a long life, but unfortunately that’s just not the case.
Nothing is guaranteed to us:
Not a year
Not a month
Not a week
Not a day
Not an hour
Not 1 minute.
We don’t know what the next moment holds and how much time we have with these remarkable connections.
My entire life from age 11 has taught me exactly that, and the last 18 months at Eterneva has taught me how to really embrace and cherish every moment I have with my family, friends and fur babies.
We all get wrapped up in our problems and get irritated at the dumbest things:
Wifi not working.
A restaurant getting our order wrong.
Waiting in a line.
I could go on forever, but you get my point. These are not real problems. They are minor inconveniences and not things you’ll remember or care about next week, next month, or next year.
Problems are losing your spouse that was the love of your life and without whom you can’t breathe.
Problems are getting a phone call that you just lost a sibling, and losing your childhood partner who was supposed to be there for most of your life.
Problems are having to say goodbye to a pet that’s not just a pet, but a family member that has been the one constant in your life up to this point.
Even as I type this, labeling these as problems is wrong because they are so much more than that. There’s not even a word that embodies how significant these losses are.
Talking with all my amazing clients that have lost a remarkable person or pet has taught me what the real meaning of life is, and how to recognize what are problems, and what just mere inconveniences that don’t have to have any real toll on my day-to-day.
I’m eternally grateful to every one of my clients. They’ve taught me more than I think I could ever give to them. These days:
I never leave a conversation with my wife without saying “I love you.”
I never walk by my dogs without showing them love and rubbing that belly.
Because the next minute is not a given, and hindsight will later reveal just how many of those moments you missed if you don’t work to recognize them now.
And that is ultimately the meaning of life: recognizing death for what it’s trying to tell us –– that none of this is a given, and to appreciate even the smallest moment with those we love, every single chance we get.
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