A couple of days ago I asked the questions:
Did I live?
Did I love?
Did I matter?
One of my wonderful friends asked the question “what if the answer is ‘no’?” Now, I happen to know that this young lady actually should be answering a huge ‘yes!’ to all three of those questions. For many of us, we underestimate the effect we have on those around us – we forget the impact that we have on others, and how a kind word and gentle encouragement can have a huge impact on those around us. I was talking about this with my dance instructor the other day – how many people have different beliefs about themselves, and massively increased confidence, simply because she has helped them to learn to dance. She does that because she loves it – and yet because she is doing something she loves, other people find their lives changed. I know this, because I am one of them!
But the real question is not about the past. It never is. We can learn from the past, for sure – our mistakes AND (please) our successes. We are all doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us – believing what we believe, having what we have, knowing what we think we know – we move through life trying to do the best possible, trying to be the best possible human beings we can be. And as my son said, aged about five – “there’s no such thing as a mistake. There’s just what has happened”.
The real question is about the future. How do we want to be? I want to look back at those questions when I get to the end of my life and be able to answer “Yes!”
“Did I live well? Did I manage to enjoy the experience of life as fully and as completely as I could? Did I take the risks I need to take?” – and if I sense that right now, today, I am holding back, that I am not truly living this life as vividly as I could be – then I have the chance, right now, in this moment, to change that.
“Did I love others? Did I find ways to make the lives of others around me better? Did I do the best I could for my family…my partner…my friends…my colleagues? Was I kind? Was I encouraging? Did I help people? Did I give something of myself to others?” – and if I sense i am withholding love in any way, to resolve, right now, in this moment, to love more fully tomorrow.
“Did I matter? Did I set out to achieve something with my life that contributed to the world? Did I do something that mattered to someone? Did I set out to do something worthy? Did I attempt something worthy of the amazing being that I am? Did I dare to make a difference? Did I choose to do something spectacular? Did I think big?”
On this last one, I don’t care whether you changed the world or changed the life of one person. Because, if you changed the life of one person, you did change the world. In every moment that you decide to live from love you change the world. As Mother Teresa said:
“There are no great deeds. There are just small deeds done with great love”
So go easy on yourself. Recognise who you are and what you have already achieved…. and then, tomorrow, go and be even more amazing. Live even more fully. Love even more passionately. And decide to make a difference in the lives of others. Make a difference in every moment you are here.
As Liora Garcia said in the movie “Conversations With God”
“I don’t want to spend my life making a living. I want to spend my life making a life.
A life that makes a difference. A life that is built on love and compassion”
Are you with me?