I was reminded on this past Father's Day that no one will live forever here on earth. There will indeed come a time when we will all pass away. The importance and significance of this moment is that I am yet alive. I have spent the better part of 40 years coming to this prophetic conclusion. It amazes me that humans are apparently the most intelligent and most forgetful species on the planet. All the while, we have history books, television and movies, language and art to constantly remind us. So, how is it that we live as if we will never die? Many animals learn their lessons the first time, not humans. How in the world did humans survive this long?
My father is no longer with us. It has been over five years and as I thought about today, I was simply reminded that my day will come too. The loss of a loved one can be a reminder that the cycle of life continues and our ability to change or control that destiny is in no way up to us. The love and life that my father had and what he provided for me was so meaningful and the very foundation of how I want to live. He taught me how to love with passion. He gave me reason to smile in the midst of whatever trouble might arise. There was a sensibility that countered every mistake, and a humility to level out every success. Humility wasn't used to diffuse or diminish success, but humility meant that you never over saturated your own mind with your success. Just as sure as there is success, you will have failure. My father made sure that we knew how to celebrate success without excess and understand that failure was a stepping stone towards success. In all things, success is simply yours to find.
There are so many lessons that humans gain from their fathers (parents), and while those lessons are omnipresent, we succinctly forget them. How can we forget that someone just died doing drugs or not wearing a seat belt then turn around and do those very things ourselves? How can we turn around and shoot someone when the person that we loved and admired was recently taken that same way? Did we feel genuine pain or was that just a front? Did we not feel the hurt of loss? What makes us forget that every day is a blessing and not to be taken for granted? The very lessons that we were taught about love and loss, we lose with ease because of our lack of awareness. We're not present and mindful of the gifts that we have as humans.
We think that our mortality sits somewhere in the distance many years from now. Our belief is the day when the sun doesn't rise or set is certainly not nearly as close as today. Even if we're reminded daily that others have just recently died, we don't seem to connect the dots to our own specific life. My guess is that so many who have already gone, wish that they would have known the day and time when they would no longer hear the voice of a loved one or smell the scent of perfume in the air or another day just to plan that next thing that they wanted to do. In so many cases, I can guarantee that they just wish that they had another moment. What would they achieve knowing that life is so short? What would Martin Luther King do differently? What would Malcolm X do? How would Napoleon approach his desire to conquer the world had he known when he would die? Knowing that you don't know, you should be motivated like never before.
We don't have to wish for another moment. We are here. We have to find ourselves in the present and build a better tomorrow today. The kind of tomorrow with immediacy. The kind of tomorrow that brings the distant future into the near future. Some will say we have to live as if there was no tomorrow, but that would be remiss of the fact that we don't know what tomorrow holds and that some things must have a plan and path regardless of whether or not a specific individual is alive. It is necessary to live to the fullest today while planning for the future. We just don't want to live today without recognizing the reality of tomorrow and the consequences of misusing today.
If you have dreams that you want to follow, start today. If you have plans to do great things, do something today. You don't have to start with the end goal in mind, but just start. You don't have to have every detail accounted for. You just need to be accountable. There's someone in need of your vision today. Someone is in need of your invention or your insight or your love. You just have to try. The ability to achieve something great isn't based on a single moment regardless of the result. Great successes have been derived from prolonged persistent work. Stop waiting for overnight success which is an oxymoron, and start building your Great Wall. You may not see it through to completion, but if you start, it can be finished. If you wait until it is too late, no one may ever know how great you were. Greatness isn't defined by what you gain, but what you give. The world needs you to be great today.
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