Last week I shared the true story of a man who died bitter and alone, and no one cried.
There was another man whose story I’ll tell today.
The two men were friends. For many years they lived in the same town, they attended the same church, they raised their families side by side.
Like the first man, the second man was highly driven. He also worked late nights and early mornings. He travelled on business so much that his eight year old said the airport was a second home. He was driven by success in business, for climbing the corporate ladder.
So how was he different than the first man?
Although it might be an oversimplification, it was what went on inside. Inside his home, inside his head, inside his heart.
Success was not his only drive. He was also driven by family, faith, hard work, and the joy of living. His children describe him as stern, but loving. A father they knew cared about them very much. His business associates knew him as a hard negotiator, yet honest and forthright. His friends saw him as dependable and steadfast, not afraid to hold them accountable nor to be held accountable.
His life was cut short at age 57 by cancer. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people he touched. Twenty-eight years later, his loss is still felt by those who loved him.
Not that he was not perfect by any measure. He made mistakes, he was human. He had arguments with his wife, he got frustrated with his children, he made mistakes in business. And to be blunt, in another one hundred years he will be forgotten. His peers will be gone, his children will be gone and the only grandchild that knew him will likely be gone. Most of us will be forgotten after a few generations as well. In the end, what does it matter? Two hundred years from now, no one will know your name either. And, as the year 2020 clearly demonstrated, there is so much in our life that we can’t control.
So why bother?
Because good reader, although our name is forgotten, the effect of our life continues in ways we will never know. The people who came in contact with both men were changed by them. That, in turn, affected the people around them. Like the proverbial stone cast in the water, the ripples continue ad infinitum. For good or for ill, the effect outlives us. And even though we can’t control what life throws at us, if you are able to read this, you can control your response to it (or at least learn to get better at it).
We get to choose, every day, in every situation, how we respond. And when we respond poorly, as we inevitably will, we get to make a different choice the next time.
What do you want your legacy to be? Do you want your ripples to be positive or negative? It’s your choice.