I bought a book once because it had in it the following line: “The cemeteries are full of people who believed they were indispensable.” I like this not-so-subtle reminder that we tend to take things just a bit too seriously, and we tend to think that we have to be doing everything all the time or it will never get done. The fact is, though, that if I die today, life will go on and the tasks that I haven’t completed yet will be completed by someone else. There will be a substitute teacher in my classes on Monday, and everyone will get by just fine.
I like keeping this in mind because it keeps me from falling into the trap of thinking that I’m responsible for everything that I touch in my life. The fact is, though, that I’m really not responsible for all that much, and any responsibility that I have in life is responsibility that I’ve decided to have. Too often I think that if someone else is unhappy, it’s up to me to cheer them up, or if someone else is having problems, it’s up to me to solve them. But the simple fact is that I can be much more helpful by encouraging them to deal with their problems themselves, for when I do that I’m helping to empower them. Sometimes I want to solve their problems for them, though, for it gives me that “indispensable” feeling. But in all honesty, that’s not a feeling that’s healthy–or realistic–for me to feel.
One day my body will be gone--probably burned to ashes. And when the day of my death comes around, I hope that I’m going to go with the realization that life will go on just fine without me, but I also hope that I’ll be quite glad to have contributed all that I could while I was here.