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“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ~ Jane Goodall
I have read this quote many times, and yet, it never truly hit me like it did today, after the loss of a special person.
There is (unfortunately) no greater awakening to the reality of the shortness of life until we lose someone.
Whenever somebody takes one’s last breath, we are reminded of the passing of time and the place in our timeline. We always think that there are endless hours, years left to do whatever we want to accomplish or say whatever we want to say at “some other or later time”—but we don’t know how much time we have left to say or do what is needed, necessary, or “just because” we want to.
We never know when an encounter, a conversation (good or bad), a hug, a wave goodbye is the last, yet we should truly treat it that way at all times. Sound cheesy? Sure, it is in a way, even cliché, but isn’t it true?
When we lose someone who can never be replaced, as nobody can, we feel numb, because a part of what we took for granted is gone forever. Our life is no longer the same because that person is no longer there to greet us, to send us annoying memes or the “millionth” message, drown us in their perfume or cologne cloud, or tell us the same joke just one more time to cause an eye roll on our part.
We often assume our presence on this earth makes no difference, but it does. Sure, at a certain moment, we can recall how we helped someone change a tire, patched a dent, mowed the grass, or delivered a tray of goodies for the holidays, but the true impact of what we do on the regular often remains unseen until we are presented with a certain hindsight, especially after a loss.
Suddenly, we have these flashbacks of occurrences flooding our memories; we can recall all the experiences we had and the special person was part of, and we recognize how much this person did make a difference in our life.
So, if you hold any grudges whatsoever, remind yourself of all the best impressions, no matter how small—those matter most. At any moment when you think you make no difference, know that you do, and your absence will be felt.
The question you need to ask yourself, though, is what kind of difference you want to make and what you want people to remember about you. It does not have to be the “big” or “impressive” thing; often people remember merely your presence at events, your core principles, your words, and most importantly, your actions. They don’t just remember the one or two times, but all the moments you were in attendance to give a helping hand, give assuring advice, or were just nearby for silent support.
Whatever it is, make each moment count. Life is short. Stop chasing magnificence or waiting for the “perfect moment.” Life is the perfect moment—it’s your actions that enrich and elevate it.