I know, I promised that the next journal entry would be called "First and Primary Responsibilities", but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.
See, basically, life is just a funny thing. Sometimes you can be just walking down the street, and BAM! something strange and unusual has happened. It might be a new love, or it might be a bus barrelling down on you at sixty miles an hour. In this case, though, it was just a newspaper article that I read this afternoon while waiting for the mechanics to finish putting new tires on Spiff.
This article talked about a UPS delivery man here in Davis who is about to retire. This delivery man had, over the years, developed a reputation for being very good-natured, for always bringing a smile to every place he delivered packages to, and generally being known as one of the nicest, friendliest guys in Davis. The entire city pulled together and put together a big retirement party for him.
Which brings me to…
What I Want To Be when I Grow Up
No. Not a UPS delivery man.
One of the most influential books I’ve ever read was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In this book was an exercise which suggested imagining your own funeral, and imagining how you would like people to remember you in their eulogies to you. Specifically, it suggested considering how you would like to be remembered by your friends, by your spouse, by your family, by your employer, and by community leaders.
Without going into too much detail, then, here are the answers I came up with:
By My Friends: I’d like to be remembered by my friends as someone who is reliable, respectful, kind, generous, willing to help out, and fun to be with. I’d like to be remembered for my ability to make people feel loved.
Of course, this comes with qualification. No one’s perfect, and I’m certainly not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve failed some friends in the past, more often than I care to remember, and more recently than is comfortable. There have been times when I’ve simply cut off all contact with a friend, just because the two of us were enough at odds to make any interaction unbearably painful. I know I made the right decisions in those cases, but such decisions are always painful, even when they were necessary. Sometimes, even if no one is in the wrong, two people simply… stop clicking. In an ideal world, I’d still be able to keep the lines of communication open with former friends, but sometimes it’s simply impossible to do so.
Then, of course, there are the times when I’ve felt like it was necessary to destroy a friendship in order to save a friend. I’ll never know if I was successful, and I’ll always doubt my actions and try to second-guess myself.
By My Family: I’d like to be remembered by my family as a supportive, giving, kind person able to give wise counsel when necessary, and giving appropriate guidance to my loved ones, and able to make them laugh and enjoy life.
Again, qualification is needed, though. As of now, I have no family of my own (and, I admit, I’m more than grateful about that), though I plan on having one someday. However, I can observe my parents, my various relatives with families, and those friends of mine who have families, and learn from their successes and their mistakes. I’m convinced that creating a successful marriage and raising a good family is a hell of a lot of hard work.
As far as my parents are concerned, I am one of those who admits to owing my folks a large debt of gratitude. They’ve given me a lot throughout my life, and I have always been able to rely on them for help or guidance when I’ve needed it. I hope that my parents are never incapacited or unable to make their own way, but if that happens, I hope that I will be in a situation where I will be able to help them as much as they’ve helped me.
By My Employers: I’d like to be remembered as someone who was able to work with integrity and to the best of his ability, working effectively and well to achieve good results and share in the vision to make the place of employment the best possible. I’d like to think, for example, that my current job does its best to improve the quality of UC Davis, even though I have nothing to do with the educational side of things, which is where the real importance of the University lies.
Yet again, there are qualifications. I’m not always to most motivated, dedicated worker. Just yesterday, in fact, I was told my by boss that I had better get on the ball on a portion of my work which has been neglected, or face some unpleasant consequences. It’s strange how much pride we take in our work; while being criticizes, I felt a strong urge to get defensive, to shift the blame on to someone else, to deny that I had been neglecting this portion of my work. But I couldn’t do that, in good conscience; honestly, while I think I do good work at my job, there are definitely areas that could stand improvement. So, I swallowed my pride and worked out a plan of action with my boss for improving this area of my performance.
By the Community: I will probably never be a "Pillar of the Community". Over the years, I’ve received a lot from the community that I live in; I’ve been given financial aid when I’ve needed it, gotten free medical care from the community clinic when I needed that, free mental health care when I needed that, and so on.
My life has changed a lot since those days, and only for the better. I have a good job with great benefits, which pays my bills with a decent monthly surplus, and I no longer need to rely on the free community serves which are out there.
So, I believe it’s appropriate to give something back to the community. I do what I can, where I can, using the skills that I have. There are people who are much worse off than I am, and I know that "there, but for the grace of God, go I". I don’t mind giving money to homeless people; perhaps it will only go to alcohol, perhaps not (either way, who am I to judge?); I contribute time to an adult literacy program; and I hope someday to volunteer for a children’s clinic or a similar place.
Most of all, like that UPS delivery man, I would like to be remembered as someone who was able to bring a smile to people, to make them feel better about themselves and the world around them. In many ways, I think I’ve succeeded in this goal; I could die today, knowing that, on the whole, the world is a better place for my existence. On the other hand, I leave behind me a few spectacular failures, a few broken hearts, and the detritus and flotsam which are the unavoidable consequences of a well-lived life.
But as the New-Age writer Richard Bach once wrote:
"There is an easy way to tell if you’ve finished your mission here on Earth. If you’re still alive, you haven’t."
I’ve got a ways to go, I guess. But I think that I’m doing a good job.
On a Different Note Entirely:
I feel like I need to put the record straight about something. Doubtless, this will be meaningless to the vast majority of my reading audience (or maybe not; I have no idea how many people actually read this journal).
Yes, I did refer to an ex-girlfriend as a "Heartless Bitch", and I did so while I was dating her. Before you go judging me, however, I ask that you check out the website Heartless Bitches International to see why I would ever do such a thing. Calling a woman a Heartless Bitch is a compliment, in my opinion; it means that the woman is strong, independent, thoughtful, and intelligent.
I did, however, make the mistake of publically posting an essay about what I thoroughly enjoyed dating a "Heartless Bitch" (in fact, you can see what I wrote here, and see for yourself whether I’m an evil, cruel, black-hearted bastard who deserves to have his intestines ripped out). I’m not ashamed of what I wrote — in fact, I think it was quite complimentary. I am sorry that I sent it to the Heartless Bitches website without her consent. That demonstrated quite a bit of thoughtlessness on my part. It was, indeed, a mistake.
Here I go, though, with the small amount of bitterness I am allowing myself with regards to the end of that particular relationship. I no longer consider that person a "Heartless Bitch".
That’s it, though. I refuse to make any further references to that situation in this journal.
Be well. Until next time, I remain,