Be ‘The Intern’ Of Dharma Before Death

In the opening video resume monologue of ‘The Intern’, Ben says this, ‘Freud said, “Love and work, work and love. That’s all there is.” Well, I’m retired and my wife is dead. As you can imagine, that has given me some time on my hands… And retirement – that is an ongoing, relentless effort in creativity. At first, I admit, I enjoyed the novelty of it… I used all the miles I had saved and traveled the globe. Problem was, no matter where I went, as soon as I got home, the “nowhere to be” thing hit me like a ton of bricks.’ But wouldn’t it be tragic if life is just about worldly love and work? After all, the beloved or you departs first to interrupt love, and work seldom ends completely fulfilled. Surely, there must be spiritual ‘work’ for expanding and furthering ‘love’ that transcends death. Retirement should not be a juncture simply for more worldly stuff, as it offers more physical freedom to ‘work’ full-time towards spiritual freedom. That is truly refreshing creativity, to not merely travel outwards, but to journey inwards to discover one’s true nature and home!

Ben continues, ‘I realised the key to this whole deal was to keep moving. Get up, get out of the house and go somewhere. Anywhere. Come rain or shine, I’m at my Starbucks by 7:15. Can’t explain it, but it makes me feel part of something.’ But isn’t that just going in another self-created meaningless cycle, not really moving ahead, while sustaining the delusion of purposeful progress? Ben muses on, ‘How do I spend the rest of my days? You name it. Golf, movies, books, pinochle, tried yoga, learned to cook, bought some plants, took classes in Mandarin… Believe me, I’ve tried everything.’ But aren’t these all just more worldly distractions, that cannot be ultimately fulfilling? Believe me, he hasn’t tried ‘everything’ yet!

Ben goes on, ‘And then of course, there are the funerals. So many more than I could imagine. The only travelling I do these days is out to San Diego to visit my son and his family. They’re all so great, I love ’em to pieces, but to be honest, I think I’ve probably relied on them way more than I should.’ But with so many funerals, shouldn’t he reflect deeper on what best to do, beyond worldly work, before death catches up? What about much belated spiritual work towards blissful liberation of one and all? He probably should spend more time with his family too, since he loves them and time is running out. It is possible to love more spiritually, without being clingy. Didn’t he agree that life is about work and love? How about working towards loving more beyond his family too?

Ben concludes, ‘Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an unhappy person. Quite the contrary. I just know there’s a hole in my life and I need to fill it. Which brings me to this morning, when I was leaving Trader Joe’s and caught your [company] flyer out of the corner of my eye. [Camera on flyer – ‘Senior Internship Program’. Intrigued, he reaches for it.]’ But he was existentially unhappy, which is why he could not truly fill the gap with all kinds of worldly stuff to do. Although the movie was kind of heartwarming, about how being an old intern brought some light of kindness and wisdom to a young CEO’s life, surely he could live a more fulfilling life by picking up Dharma learning and practice in time, which is not just another sport or exercise! May this review be a Dharma ‘flyer’ for Ben, and all workaholics, retired or not!

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