There is an old saying, “You can’t take it with you, but you can leave it behind”. I came across this quote the other day and it just got stuck in my mind. The more I thought about this quote, the more profound it became. I know this statement typically relates to possessions, but what if we apply it to our lives?
While pondering this quote I came to a realization that we are all immortal. Obviously, our bodies don’t live forever, but we all linger on this planet in some form or another forever. Some people will have a larger impact than others, but remnants of all of our ancestors live on through us.
People who have been blessed with raising and teaching children will have a large impact that can echo for generations. Almost all of us have had some influence on a child at some point in our lives. I can think of numerous examples of this type of immortality.
One great example in my family would be my Grandfather’s love of fishing. My brother and I used to fish with him all the time. As I got older I lost interest in fishing, but my brother is still an avid fisherman. In fact, he has started a fishing charter service called Lines Out Charters. My Grandfather’s love of fishing had so much influence on my brother that he now supplements his income by offering guided fishing charters. His influence did not end there. Our cousins, who were very young when my Grandfather passed away, have also grown to love fishing. My Grandfather lives on through his family and even through my Brother’s customers. He certainly left his love of fishing behind.
Friends and CoWorkers
We spend a lot of time with our friends and co-workers. You cannot spend that much time together and not be influenced and changed by each other. I know for a fact that I have become a stronger more assertive person over the years and much of this growth can be directly attributed to co-workers.
I have met some of my best friends at different jobs. One of my friends struggled with addiction. This guy had a heart of gold and I learned a lot from him. It was heart breaking to watch him get dragged down by a chemical addiction that would eventually claim his life. Before he passed away I visited him in Asheville, NC. I went to my very first skate park with him when I was 28. After the skate park he had a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to lead. He asked me if I would be willing to sit in and listen. I hesitated at first, but I could see that it was important to him, so I agreed. Observing this meeting was a real learning experience for me. After that meeting I came away with a greater understanding of addiction and I have more empathy for the people who suffer from it. My friend still lives on in my life. I was changed for the better because of his influence.
I have a handful of people through my life that I have considered mentors. I’m not sure that they even know that I look to them as a mentor. They are people who represent success to me and who have achieved some of the goals I am working toward. In fact, my career has been greatly affected by a few mentors over the years.
Growing up, my Dad owned his own business as an auto mechanic. I worked with him in the summers for several years before I graduated high school. I got to see firsthand what it took to run a successful business. I also got to see how a business affects personal life. While working for him I learned to work on cars and gained mechanical skills that I will continue to use for my whole life. I fully intend to pass on what I have learned to my son as he gets older. My Dad’s love of cars and his mechanical prowess will live on.
How many times have you been influenced or changed by someone you don’t even know? Maybe someone showed you an act of kindness that you still talk about today. Not only would that act of kindness be an influence on you, but it can change the people you know as you tell the story.
I can think of one great example in my life where I was influenced by a perfect stranger. I was at the Food Lion Skatepark with my friend I mentioned earlier. I was trying to learn in the baby bowl. It had about 4 feet or vertical wall before rolling back into the bowl. I was wearing wrist guards and a helmet, but no knee and elbow guards. I fell from the top of that bowl twice and it sapped my courage. I think I was pretty close to breaking my wrist.
I stood around watching for hours trying to get my nerve back up. Then I saw this little boy, probably about 4 years old, skating with his Dad. He would drop into that bowl and fall. Then he would get back up and do it again and again. No crying, no complaining about pain, just getting up and doing it again. I watched him and decided if a little boy can do this and keep getting back up, so can I. I put all of my guards on this time and I dropped back in. By the time we left the park I could skate that bowl pretty good. I was able to achieve something I had always wanted to do. I got my second wind of courage from a little 4 year old boy that didn't even know I was there. Situations like this happen more often than you think.
Matthew 5:14-16 NIV "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Now that I have explained what I mean about immortality, it’s important to realize that we all will achieve immortality in some sense. We all will have known and unknown influence on other people and that is how we will live on forever. Through the lives of others, we will continue to affect the world long after we are gone.
The really important part, is to pay attention to the kind of influence you put out in the world. There is always someone watching, even when you may not realize it.
- Will you display solid character?
- Will you be the kind of person you want your children to grow up to be?
- Will your immortality be a blessing to the world you leave behind?
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