If food is what sustains the body, gratitude nourishes the soul.
Today I am well fed.
Having lived in the same community for over 30 years, I believe I carry a relatively high, (hopefully) positive reputation. Within minutes of my home, I can stroll among the redwoods or along a rocky — albeit cold — beach. My house is not a palace, yet it’s not a cardboard box either and my “commute” to work, when not on a plane, consists of four stairs. When subjected to the hassle of airline travel, I often visit beautiful, wondrous locales and speak to and with fascinating people from all walks of life. I am nurtured by strong friendships and even though — like any long-term relationship — we can drive each other crazy, I am still deeply, teenage-style, crazy nuts in love with my wife. My hair is thinner, the brown has been replaced with gray; I grunt a bit more when I move than I did in younger days, but, even if I am forever watching my weight, my health is generally holding up, thank you very much.
I am beyond fortunate — although I forget far too often.
After the passing of his aunt, her family assembled at the house. On her refrigerator, among the collection of magnets and drawings, was an article I had written many years ago called “Five Words to Change Your Life.”
I do not recall if I ever met his aunt, but looking at the refrigerator magnets framed in the small snapshot, I know she had grandchildren and perhaps liked birds. I assume she traveled to Alaska, and she had a fondness for the iconic Dr. Seuss character, the Cat in the Hat (or more likely her grandchildren did). She was most likely a tidy woman. (I make that deduction because my article was cut with clear straight lines and hung level and centered on the refrigerator door.)
Although not directly posted on her refrigerator, like each of us, I know she had dreams, possibilities, and plans; although I do not know what they were. I hope she realized them before she passed.
I also know with certainty that she was loved and that she loved in return.
She could have been my aunt, or yours. Maybe she was.
Although my messages are posted in print near and far, and I am given the privilege of the speaker’s platform, each of us, whether as pebbles or boulders, is tossed into the same lake, spreading ripples in all directions. We touch and we are touched. Should we face final judgment, I am convinced the ultimate criteria will be how we affected those with whom we connected during our lives. For some day in the future, each of us will exist only in the memories and words of the ones we left behind. It is they, not we, who determine our legacy. Paradoxically, we create it, and do so in the present; right now, today, this instant.