I read this quote a long time ago, and it has pretty much stayed with me since then: "The 2 most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why". Thank you, Mark Twain! Now I’m not trying to be morbid or depressing or a Pessimist or anything ‘negative’ like that; but as a nurse for (*gulp!) 40+ years, I have seen a lot in life - living and dying and all the in-betweens just in my nursing career alone, so I think I’d call myself a Realist instead.
The reason for this post comes behind some losses I’ve borne witness to, not just where I work, but in the outside world - with personal contacts as well as what I’ve seen in the media. And then I got to thinking how I spend more than 40 hours of my every week doing a job that I used to enjoy but truthfully, it has slowly sucked the life out of me. Yes I said it! Nursing is not what it used to be (probably not just nursing but any career field anymore these days). Western Medicine is not the same anymore and if the Reader has no clue of that which I speak, consider yourself lucky and pray you never find out. Yes, I said it! So back to Mark Twain’s quote…We give so much to our jobs, to service, to the people around us, to the rat-race of life, making everything a priority except ourselves, our personal health or our well-being; chasing a dream, making money, pursuing higher education with titles and degrees, being “All that you can be”, driving fancy cars, collecting things and living above our means, bla bla bla…. Forgetting that when it comes to jobs, you are disposable and replaceable AF!
This isn’t only about nursing; it’s about politics and name-droppers (who you know or hang with), what neighborhood you call home, which corner office you plunk yourself in, how much money you have, how many thousand followers you have ‘influence’ over, what new Louis Vuitton (no offence Louis!) adornment you have, your newest surgical enhancement, etc. etc. etc. Jeez, my head is spinning thinking about it. Do I sound bitter or sarcastic? Not my intention (if that’s your perception). I’m just curious as to how will all of this matter the day that you wake up and find me standing over you in a hospital as your nurse….. Can those things and accomplishments and material contraptions save you? Well, if you have money, you can get some life-saving procedure or drug, but can you recoup that time lost chasing Fool’s gold? Food for thought……
What will people say about you when you die? How will they remember you and the impact you had on them, their lives, the world (home and abroad)? I mean, I’m not admonishing you to live for what people think, don’t get me wrong. It’s ok to be the best you can be and to use your God-given talents to be a productive member of society. Not all of us were meant to be Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, Rosa Parks, Marcus Garvey, Princess Diana, The Pope, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Norman Borlaug, Harriet Tubman, Oskar Schindler, or Florence Nightingale just to name a few.
You can make a difference in your own family, your own neighborhood, your own city, your own country; not by doing a lot, but by caring AND showing you care. Care for others yes, and care for Self as well. Think about your love-language and how you show your love for others and how you want them to show their love for you. It is written: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Instead, lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, for where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
A life well-lived is not all about the busy-ness of your day-to-day work life. Spend time with the people that matter most to you (in equal measure, reciprocated and not 1-sided). Fill every day of your waking life with at least 1 moment (AT LEAST ONE!) of pleasure, gratitude, stillness, love, peace, knowing, connection, community. Cherish the people who matter most to you and let them know. Care, share, show loving kindness to those less fortunate - just a simple random act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. When you reflect on the people who’ve gone before you, if it warms your heart then that is the legacy they left behind – the legacy of having had time to know them as Divine equals, as much deserving of your love and caring as you are as well (Buddha).
Legacy is not just the amount of money or property someone leaves you in a Will. It’s the long-lasting impact they have on your life through their faith, their ethics, their core values, their character, the life they lead and the examples they set. Let that time between when you were born and the day you die (i.e. what’s left of this life you are now living) be of real worth; only you can determine how that should play out in your life. Tomorrow is not promised. Why are you here? What purpose do you/should you/will you serve? What is legacy of your time here on Earth, that time between your birth and your death?
Wishing you peace.
Audrey Steele, L.Ac
“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when the forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on their hearts, not on marble” (Charles Spurgeon).