How will you be remembered by the lives you touched after your gone? Would you be thought of as caring, giving, loving, respected, admired, smart, or intellectual? Did you have special gifts which you shared with others, if not the world? Or would your life's imprints quickly disappear into the sunset, like grains of sand washing back to sea. After all, how we treat others today is how we'll be remembered tomorrow.
In my novel, Sons In The Clouds two friends shared absolutely everything together: their inner battles, hardships, and victories leaving marks on each other like permanent tattoos. One learned to love freely despite many personal betrayals, was highly respected by his peers, a hero and lifesaver to many, and a shining example of what a military warrior really was, making the lives he touched wish more like him would cross their paths. He continually built others up, helping them reach their goals, becoming one of those rare souls that always left a lasting impression. His mark was irreplaceable.
Most of us never think about how we'll be remembered. Mostly, our futures are normally seen in terms of tomorrow, next week, or the following month, not how the impressions we make are analyzed after we're gone. And we've all heard the saying, "How big a crowd you draw at your funeral is the measure of your life." Well, I for one wouldn't use a tearful ceremony as an individual's scorecard. There's much more to show for a person's lifeline than how many pews are filled inside a somber church.
Starting today, think about the people you came in contact with recently. Your boss (if you have one), co-workers, the person at the grocery store checkout counter, your neighbors, bartender, hair stylist, people in your social organizations, best friends, family, even your internet friends which you've never even met. What were the impressions you left on them? Were you kind, angry, impatient, or anxious? Were you able to make them feel better after you left, giving them reasons to look forward to your next meeting? If you've had some unresolved, lingering issues with some, would they be the lasting memories you left on them? Once again, if you left this earth tonight or tomorrow, how would you be remembered?
We all have something to contribute, leaving our stamp on our book of life. Some do it simply by being kind and respectful to others, therefore, making them feel special. Many are at their best as giving fathers or mothers, husbands or wives, sons or daughters, wonderful and talented employees, artists, actors, or even writers whose creations stay in print for all eternity. Perhaps there was only one sentence or gesture you gave to another that completely changed them, creating something positive inside their mind for years to come. Or maybe you suddenly disappeared, not letting the ones you loved really know how much they meant to you.
I enjoy watching mini-dramas, those TV programs which last for around ten episodes. They're good at building up their story lines then leave us hanging until the following season. One of my favorites is, "Rescue Me" on the FX channel. It's filled with humor, drama, and realistic in your face human behavior. It's not a show for everyone, but I've watched it every season. The last two episodes have sent a powerful message and relate strongly to what I've been discussing:
One of the main characters is a man who has a lot of trouble expressing his inner feelings to the ones he cares about. One day, he decides to sit down and write them some individual letters. He entrusts them to his best friend, instructing him to hand them out in case of his death. The letters are filled with words he could never express in person, sharing his deepest emotions. Contrary to his wishes, his best friend decides to go ahead and open the one addressed to him. Deeply touched by what he reads, it causes him to prematurely distribute the others. What was said in the letters causes a chain-reaction of emotion and love, leaving a cherished mark on each person's soul knowing how they were truly thought of. What he couldn't say in person, was now being felt through the written word. As the storyline continues, it appears that the main character's death will soon come to pass, leaving behind his raw thoughts and opinions to be remembered by.
The message here is leaving your mark on this world, particularly on those you care for and love the most, should be a daily exercise instead of waiting til after you're gone. None of us can be blissfully happy and make everyone in this world feel special all the time, after all, we're human. But, making a conscious effort to leave a positive impression requires much less energy than leaving a negative one.
I had a Grandmother (not the one I wrote about in a prior blog) who left this world a few years ago. She was twice-widowed, a single mother, great-grandmother, and hard worker most of her life. Up until her last few years, she lived in another state before moving here to Texas. It was during this time that I was able to get to know her much better. Quickly, I noticed how she almost always carried a smile along with lots of laughter during every conversation. She loved her ice cream, daytime TV, neighborhood friends, and continued enjoying her daily routines long after her walking and driving came to an end. Unfortunately, she had a stroke and became bed-ridden during her last few months at the age of ninety-five. But, even after she could no longer speak, she would always carry that smile and twinkle in her eyes when I walked inside her care facility. She knew how serious her condition was, yet always chose to face it with her usual, happy demeanor. Her mark was left on me, and many others, who had loved her during her long life.
Leave your mark, and make it a good one. Life spins by extremely fast.
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