I used to think that a measure of one’s worth was a grand thing…some great spectacle that you’ve managed to leave behind after you’re gone. I used to believe that it meant having your name etched into the history books…or at least having your name etched somewhere. Now I know better. Now I know that the true measures of a person’s worth are the lives that you’ve managed to touch.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I guess I’ve been thinking about many things lately. Circumstances have forced certain things upon me and thinking has been my solace. A friend of mine passed on recently…not a very close friend, certainly not one that I ever confided in, but someone who had touched my life nonetheless. I didn’t realize how many lives he had actually touched until the day of his funeral. It was a terrible day, but it a strange way it felt good to see all those people gathered because it meant that his life hadn’t been in vain.
I suppose I started thinking about my own life then…about my own mortality…and, if I were to leave this earth right now, whether my life would have been in vain. At the depths of my depression, I sometimes think that it has. After all, I had a set plan of what I was supposed to accomplish by now, and where I was supposed to be. Some I’ve achieved. Some I haven’t, and don’t know if I ever will. But when I really stopped to think about it, I ended up surprising myself.
I realized that I have touched people. Like the ex student who I haven’t spoken to in years but who immediately came online to make sure everything was okay when I put on my other profile that I had a fever. Like the co-worker who I’ve only known for a little while but who made the time to call me the night before my exam to make sure I wasn’t having a panic attack (which I am prone to). Like the friend who called me five minutes after I had put up a particular piece to be certain that I was just being creative (which I was) and hadn’t actually been screwed over by some woman. Like all the people who put up with my writing and stroke my fragile ego when they don’t know me from any other person in the street.
Somehow…some way…I have touched these people. I have brought something into their lives that, dare I hope, no one else could have in quite the same way. I choose to believe that’s a good thing. Back when I was a teacher, up late at night working because I promised a student some help, I’d always be asked, ‘why bother?’. And I’d always answer, ‘if I could make a difference to even one, it’ll be worth it’. It’s more than worth it. I don’t need monuments to my greatness…I don’t need legions of fans screaming my name (I’d like it but I don’t need it, lol).
I’ve had a good life. I’m reasonably healthy. I’ve been blessed to know what it feels like to want to spend the rest of my life with someone, not once but twice. I used to wonder what my purpose was…why I’ve had to go through the things I have. Now I know it’s because I had to be shaped into the person I am. Now I know that I am fulfilling my legacy.