November 9, 2014

The Pursuit of Material Things

During the middle of my court proceedings, a close friend sat with me at dinner and asked, “How did you, of all people, get yourself into such a terrible situation?”The question would have been difficult to answer six months earlier. However, I had been pondering that question since the day I resigned from my law firm. I looked him in the eye and said “Things, the pursuit of bigger, better and more material things.” He was not satisfied with the answer and wanted a better one. I explained that my pursuant of material things began early in my life.

I grew up in a family where both parents worked. We only had a family dinner once or twice a week. The discussions at the table centered around financial issues, paying the mortgage, saving for retirement, conserving cash and why we could not afford certain material things. The fact that my family did not have the “Material Things” that many of my friends and classmates had caused me to envy them and feel insecure. At some point in my late teens, I decided that pursuing material things was a worthy goal. I worked very hard in various part time jobs and I did very well in college. I graduated very high in my law school class which allowed me to obtain a coveted one year clerkship with the Michigan Court of Appeals. After clerking, i went to work at a prominent Law Firm. When I got to the firm, I saw the material things the partners possessed and I was determined and encouraged to pursue more material things. I discovered that pursuing material things was a never ending pursuit. The more I had, the more I wanted. There was always someone with nicer home or a better lifestyle. I worked very hard and was able to acquire the material things I pursued as I made a very good living.

Suddenly, my material things were at risk as a result of three separate financial issues that combined to create a financial crisis.

  1. unsound real estate investments
  2. unexpected medical expenses for my son; and
  3. outlandish client entertainment expenses

To protect my material things, I committed the acts that put me in a federal prison. I have now lost all of the material things I worked so hard to attain and protect. Losing your material things clearly hurts to a certain extent. However, it is nothing compared to losing the love, trust and respect of your family, friends and community.

We all need certain material things to survive in the real world. The lesson I have learned, at this late date, is that the pursuant of material things should never cause you to risk losing the really important things; your family, friends and community. I will have to pursue some material things once I leave Federal Prison to survive but you can rest assured that my pursuit will never jeopardize the real things remaining in my life.

Things are fine, but do not lose sight of the real things. I did, and I will regret it for the rest of my life.

Ken Flaska

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