Once I went to a memorial service for a student from our school who passed away. He was an 18-year-old senior who seemed to have learned an awful lot about life in his short time on this planet. Cancer took him away, but he left a legacy of cheerfulness, encouragement, and love among all of the people who knew him. Speaker after speaker remembered the way that he cared, the way that he loved, and the way that he was able to have a tremendous amount of fun with anything he did. It really is rare to know of someone so young who truly was living his life fully, especially since doing so means treating our fellow human beings with dignity, love, and respect. It usually takes us a bit longer than 18 years to learn such lessons in our lives.
It got me to thinking once more how I’ll be remembered. Will people have pleasant thoughts of me and remember me in positive ways? Or will they be indifferent? I certainly hope that they won’t be glad, though when you’re teaching high school it’s probably inevitable that someone, somewhere holds something against you. . . . I know, though, that if I want a memorial service that resembles this student’s, then I have to make decisions and take actions today that will make positive impacts on other people’s lives. They don’t have to be major things, just simple things such as encouraging, complimenting, and loving.
But even more, it means living by example. If I tell people they should have fun in life, do I have fun? If I tell people that smiling and laughing are important, do I smile and laugh? Do I make the time for things like hikes in the woods and runs through the desert? Do I enjoy myself and partake regularly in fun things that I love to do?
If I don’t do these things, then there’s really very little chance that I’ll be remembered as someone who loved life. I might be remembered as someone who talked about loving life, but did I really live it as if I loved it?
This is a question that I need to start asking myself all the time. And then I need to take action depending on what my response is. A life half-lived, after all, is really no life at all, is it?