The National Public Radio released an article recently on the stories people tell as their lives come to a close. The psychiatrist who ran the study noticed that the stories people tell take a very different tone and focus as they are dying. That got me thinking... What would my story be? Who would I want to have it?
Everyone wants to believe that they matter. Everyone wants to believe they made an impact on others' lives. Why? Probably because people really are small in the scheme of things. With 6 billion people on the Earth, it's difficult to say that anyone can make a definite impact on anything. Most people never write a great novel, sing an amazing song, or paint a spectacular picture. Very few will become politicians or activists who actually make any sort of impact.
I've come to believe the impact we make will depend solely on the people we interact with. I realized that I've had about 400 students pass through my classes. I've seen many of them succeed and graduate. Even now, I have former students stop by just to say "hi." I am pleased that, even if they don't LOVE English, they got something worthwhile out of my class. I also know I can't reach everyone. Sometimes, some of my students don't make it. I hate that, but it is what it is.
So when it comes down to it, I'd tell my story for Little Guy. And I would want him to see what I accomplished and what he could accomplish. I'd want him to know that I followed my heart... Both in my career and in my personal life. I married his father out of love, and I loved both of them more than anything. I would want him to know how much I valued my education and how important critical thinking is. More importantly, I'd want him to know that no matter what, I'm proud of him. He's an amazing, brilliant child, and he can grow into an amazing brilliant man.
I'd also write for Big Guy. I'd want him to know that of all the unexpected things in life, he topped my list. I'd try to make him see himself how I see him. He's intelligent, sensitive, and creative. I'd want him to have more confidence, to believe in what he can do more than he currently does. He often sells himself so short.
My mom would need to get a copy too, just so I can tell her how much I love her. I like who I am, and I wouldn't be who I am without her. I wouldn't have been able to achieve this without her... Though I could have done without the writing addiction. I blame her for that.
I may never write the Great American Novel. I may never give magnificent speeches or go to unique and spectacular places. But I think I have made an impact. And I am proud of the impact I made. I think that's the important part when it comes to the end of life. Did you do the best you could? And I think I have.