Is this all there is?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Somewhere, deep inside himself, he knew there was something else.

There just had to be.

It was the haunting question that whispered in his ear and beckoned in his sleep.

t was like a dark, quiet figure standing in the shadowy corner, always there, always watching, always present. It propelled him to squeeze all there was from this life.

At 23 he pursued, wooed and married a startling beauty. Being the envy of his male companions, he envisioned her to meet his emotional, relational and physical needs.

And though engaging in conversation, active in their affairs and constant in companionship, she could not fill that nagging sense of contentment he so desperately craved.

With marriage came children. And so it was he poured himself into fatherhood, and took great pleasure in watching his offspring grow and mature and achieve. And though they were flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones, they, too, were unable to fill the great void.

Realizing certain material benefits at his disposal and possessing the capacity to multiply them, he, at age 38, amassed a small fortune to the tune of $6 million, no small feat in the ultra-competitive world in which he lived. And though the envy of many his age, here — once again — he experienced that nagging emptiness that seemed to be his curse.

He threw himself into his outside interest.

His golf game lost 10 strokes and his waistline 4 inches.

His energy and endeavors increased as he traveled the world with his bride.

Through the continents he traversed, from the pyramids to the Parthenon, from the Great Plains to the Great Wall of China, his eyes absorbed all the amazing spectacles this world offered.

And yet, three days upon his return, here he sat, gazing out his upstairs window, contemplating his lot in life, the only sound being the slow ticking of the wall clock.

As the second hand started once again on its circular journey, he took stock. He was 58, debt-free, loving wife and children, good health and abundant friends. He had not only the time but the energy to pursue. To pursue anything. To pursue everything.


he had now existed such a length of time as to know that, ultimately, he would not ultimately be fulfilled. Were he to climb a thousand Mt. Everests and cross a thousand Sahara Deserts.

Were he to amass a thousand fortunes and subdue a thousand kingdoms, that whisper would still resound in his ear, suggesting there was always something else, that he had not quite arrived, that he was not quite “there.”

And so he joined that chorus of humankind, plagued with the question sandwiched between birth and death:

“Is this all there is?”

Rex alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is