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I love reading biographies and histories. I learn a great deal from reading the way past heroes handled everyday events and what impact they made.
So what is history going to say about you? What do you feel in your heart of hearts is going to be your epithet after you’re gone? I don’t mean what is engraved on your tombstone. I mean what will be written in some great cosmic record of the universe.
Personally, I don’t think I’ll even warrant a footnote. But if I do, I would like history to record that I made an effort and tried my best to make a difference. I would like history to say that I stood up for what I believed in, stood up to get counted and stood up for my rights.
What would you like? What do you think history will say? What would you like history to say? Is there a gap between these two? Can you bridge it? What do you have to do to make that gap connect?
We have to consciously make an effort to improve the world before we go. We have to take responsibility for what we’ve been given and make a better use of it before we shuffle off and pass it on.
How will we point at the polluted oceans, the dried-up rivers, the melted ice caps and say to our metaphorical children, “One day all this will be yours. Oh, and sorry about what we did with it.” I think they may be a little angry at us.
History may indeed write us off as termite people. We have destroyed and polluted and slaughtered and made a pretty poor show of things. Individually we can make a difference. We must make a difference. Individually history must hold us accountable.
The trouble is there are so many people who won’t change because they think they won’t be held accountable. If there is no one watching, they think they can get away with murder. History will not treat them kindly.
I’m amazed how people in history who often made the greatest difference were those who overcame the most. Life is difficult. If it was all fluffy and easy, we wouldn’t be tested, tried, forged in the fire of life. We wouldn’t grow or learn or change, or have a chance to rise above ourselves. If life were a series of lovely days, we’d soon get bored. If there were no rain, then there wouldn’t be any feeling of great joy when it finally stopped and we could go to the beach. If it were all easy, we couldn’t get stronger.
So be thankful life is a struggle some of the time, and recognize that only dead fish swim with the stream. For the rest of us, there will be times when it’s an uphill, upstream struggle. We will have to battle waterfalls, dams and raging torrents. But we have no choice. We have to keep swimming or get swept away. And each flick of our tail, each surge of our fins makes us stronger and fitter, leaner and happier.
We have to see life as a series of adventures. Each adventure is a chance to have fun, learn something, explore the world, expand our circle of experience and friends, and broaden our horizons. Shutting down to adventure means exactly that – we are shut down.
The second you are offered an opportunity to have an adventure to change your thinking, to step outside of yourself, go for it and see what happens. Be flexible and you will never be bent out of shape. That’s why people are remembered in history – because they were willing to go the extra mile. That’s why we have historical heroes – because they kept swimming with all that life brought them.
Bob Mueller is the associate vice president of mission & stewardship at Hosparus. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.