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To a Young Executive

Your tailored suit looks good, I know,

And the tie you’ve chosen matches well.

You’re working, what, twelve hours at a go?

A tempting mortgage beckons you.

Your promotion prospects are second to none,

But, wait, you’re only 21!


If now you make your business thrive,

What will you do when you’re 45?


Leave it!  Chuck it in!

Travel the earth and fly the sky,

Grab your trainers, pack a T-shirt

And then, without a thought, just go.


Take a plane to the ice and the snow.

With frozen hands on a mountain peak,

Pull yourself to the top of the world

And as you stagger the final step,

See half of Asia there unfurled.


Push your feet through the desert sand,

As the sun burns down on your head and your neck,

And a cruel, hot wind dries up your lips,

While you dream of a beer in your sweating hand,

As you gaze half-blind through the storm of dust,

You’ll then begin to understand.


Follow the river brown as earth,

Through the dark red hills of Africa,

Where the hippos sleep in mud,

And camels drink for a waterless week,

And girls are laughing as they work,

And babies bounce on mothers’ backs,

And market sellers in their shacks

Will call you over for mint tea,

Then, only then, will you start to see.


So when you’re tired, at 65,

Rest your back on your cushioned chair,

With your pension scheme and your thinning hair,

When your office window shows

A view of endless office windows,

And the unforgiving computer lists

A line of emails which hourly grows.


Then, when the room is dark and the coffee is cold,

And the light is dim at the end of the day,

When your eyes are tired and your neck is sore,

Think back to 40 years before.

Then remember what you did

And then remember what you saw.