“Giving back is how you define success in this life.”
“The true measure of a man is how you handle victory… and defeat.”
Something to think about.
This is related to a very deep conversation I had recently on the train with a car full of people about life, love, the spirit, the soul and what it means to be “alive”.
At the end of the night one woman who was off in the corner asked me if I was a philosophy professor. I said no, and she said I should be. Maybe I should. I’ve always considered going to school for Philosophy, or Forensics or Law. I have many years left… so maybe I’ll plan for that in the coming years.
Back on-topic though… what is the real point of your life on this orbiting rock around that molten globe we call the Sun? How would you define your life as “complete” in this world?
When can you say to yourself: “I’ve done the best I can do in this world. I’m ready to go now.”?
A good friend of mine is facing the potential loss of her grandmother; a woman who has lived a full live of 106 years in this world; over a century of life. She has seen children, dozens of grandchildren, at least 3 wars, lived through the depression and many, many other things.
I asked the people gathering in the train car about what they want to do in this world to be remembered by others. One person sitting one table over said he wants to make millions of dollars, so people know who he is and remember him. He wanted to be a millionaire.
I asked him to name the top 3 millionaires. He couldn’t name any. I asked him to name at least 2 billionaires. He didn’t have any. One person at the table behind me spoke up with “BILL GATES!”
I turned around and said “Good, that’s one. Name one more…” He didn’t have a second one (Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison would be my top guesses here).
So I told the first person:
“How are people going to remember you as a millionaire, if you yourself can’t even remember any famous millionaires or billionaires?”
Then he said he would give his money to his family to help them, and they’d remember him that way. Ok, that’s great and I definitely respect that, and that would certainly keep him in their memories for awhile.
But what if he took those millions, gave some to your family and invested the rest for a few years to help solve the drought problem in Africa? Or create a new life for millions of ravaged people in Darfur? Or invested the money to help convert his entire town or city to “green” power solutions? Or do whatever you think will change the world, change enough people, to make you immortal.
(hold on, there is a point to all of this)
The conversation dove down into the deep philosophical topic about using a “Star Trek” transporter for travel instead of trains and airplanes (most said they would definitely use a transporter, until I explained further… clashing directly with their religious and moral beliefs, and almost everyone eventually changed their tune afterwards, saying they would never use a transporter).
We talked about about where the “soul” is located, what makes someone “better” than someone else, and many other topics. Lots of people searched deep within themselves on that trip, and certainly learned and shared a lot. It was probably the single deepest conversation I had with such a large group of people at one time.
But the one thought I left everyone with on that commute was that all we are, all we EVER are in this world… is what we leave behind. What we leave behind is not a full bank account, not a parking lot full of sports cars we’ve collected and restored and not a huge group of friends we hung out with in our life.
What we leave behind are our creations, things we build, and memories in people we’ve shared this world with; memories of people we’ve affected in this world. People who will talk about us long after we’re gone.
Are we immortal?
Not physically, no (not yet anyway, but that brings its own population density issues). We CAN live on in the memories of people who carry our life with them. We live on in the lips and conversations of our relatives, our children, our friends and our family.
We give birth to our children, mold them and teach them lessons and skills they will remember throughout their entire lives. They keep us alive. Our children grow into our big shoes and take our genetic material and share that with others, and create children and generations and lessons of their own.
What are YOU here for in this world? Do you know? Do you even think about that?
Are you doing ALL you can do, all you SHOULD do, to make your life in this world worth talking about?
Are you doing what you need to do in this world to be “immortal”?
If you could do anything in this world, what would you do? Are you doing that right now? Why not?
One thing that will stick with me forever, was passed to me from my high-school guidance counselor:
“Do what you like, and like what you do. Nothing else matters.”
Think about everything you do, every SINGLE THING you do and put it in that context.
Always keep a smile on your face. If you’re not happy in this world, do whatever you need to do to put that smile back on your face.