“To die without being forgotten is to be eternal.” Lao-tzu. This from a person who’s philosophy has lasted thousands of years! Talk about being eternal! I enjoy this statement because we often get caught up in some of the silliest things in our lives and forget what is really important. The other day a young woman got off a city bus and walked right out in front of me as I was driving down the street. She was on her cell phone, not paying attention at all to what she was doing. Brakes on a vehicle are a great thing, when you have enough notice to use them. She was very fortunate that day. But I gave her a little toot with the horn to wake her up so that she didn’t kill herself, and she simply gave a glare and continued talking as she walked across the street while continuing this “very important phone call”.
I don’t know if the call was personal or professional, but it was certainly not worth risking her life. And I began to wonder how she would be remembered? Being very young, she may not have had time yet to do something big that the world could remember her for. But on a personal level, I am sure that someone would remember her fondly for something. Did she not care about that?
Ever since I became a father I have become aware of the fragility of life. It is a precious gift and one that can get ended and altered way too quickly for our human souls to deal with. I would not want to be the father who just found out that his daughter was just killed as she jay walked across a street. I would not want to be the brother, the mother, the sister, the lover of anyone who had this happen. Yet this sort of thing does happen when we don’t pay attention to what is going on around us.
Once becoming a father I also noticed that my own self-worth grew exponentially. Where people would be able to walk all over me before, I found myself saying things like, “You have no right to treat the father of my children that way.” I know it stemmed from a protective aspect of fatherhood, more than a protective instinct for myself. But at least it was a start. It made me begin to pay attention to what is going on around me so that I can be safe and know that at the end of the day, I am still here for my children.
So when I die I would like to be remembered. I would like people to remember me as a man with a huge heart. I would like to be the guy who stayed true to himself, even if it was against what society thought to be acceptable. I would like to be the guy who loved more deeply than anyone thought possible. I would like people to remember me as the man who voiced and acted with compassion. I don’t want to be worshipped. I don’t want people to blather on about how wonderful I was if I really wasn’t. We’ve all been to a funeral or two like that and looked around, wondering if we were at the right event. I just want to not be forgotten by those close to me and by those whose lives I have had a positive effect upon.
Don’t worry. I am not planning on exiting stage left any time soon. I am just aware that we never know when that truck comes around the corner just as we step off the curb.