If I died today, what in my life would really matter? Would I regret how I spent my time? Would my passing affect others in any way?
We have all heard the Cherokee proverb: When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
Could I honestly say that about myself? In my small circle of family and close friends, that might be true, but of the world? Certainly not. I have not done anything outstanding. My life has not made any difference outside of my small circle.
Yet, I do matter. As the story of the boy on the beach throwing back one starfish at a time, he might not be able to save them all, but his compassion mattered to that one he did save. If you multiply this action by those of countless others, then yes, the world feels the impact.
So, it does matter to anyone how I live my life? Yes. It matters to me and to everyone around me.
This week I took a closer look at how I spent my time, where my focus was. I spend too much time with things that won't matter at all if I died today. The unfinished manuscript, the unfinished painting, they won't have much impact on my family. However, the phone call to a housebound friend, the extra effort at work, and how often I tell my family I love them, that has an impact on others. Those are my contributions to the million of starfish needing rescue.
And thus I am refocusing where I spend most of my time. So what if I'm not the perfect weight I used to be. So what if my painting will never be viewed by anyone but a few close friends and family. So what if my book never makes the Times Best Seller list.
My prayer time, the time I spent nurturing others, the gifts of my talents to others, not for my personal gain, but for their enjoyment or uplifting, those will matter after I am gone. Those things will make a difference in someone else's life.
Keeping my focus on how I might help another, simplifies my life, pulls me back from the frantic busyness and frantic pace I try to keep up. Sometimes sitting on the porch watching the sunset with my husband is far more important than anything else.
Erma Bombeck said as much after she was diagnosed with cancer. She regretted not spending more time looking at sunsets, playing with her grandchildren, and just being, rather than doing.
I am going to heed the wise words of the Cherokee proverb, and of Erma, when I decide how to spend my time.