A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends upon the labors of other men, living and dead.
It's 7 a. m. Sunday morning. There's a pink sky and a white earth. Out my window I see the dark gray trees pushing up through the white. A few amber lights from windows tell me that some people are awake. And the rose of passing tail lights say that others are about their business on roads that have been plowed.
Yesterday was the day of the blizzard. Here in the northeastern USA the snow came down in great clumps, covered cars, snarled transportation, canceled flights and trains, knocked out power and caused a few deaths.
It's a clear day here in eastern Pennsylvania. The morning sunlight is bright and a cold but dry day is expected. Today the recovery and restoration will begin. I note that while nature gave us the chaos, it is humans who will restore the order.
The road is plowed and passable, the electricity is on, my computer is working, my radio is giving me songs by Schubert from a station that is on the air. At my elbow are books by Nietzsche, Dickens, Durrell and, of course, my Shakespeare. The wisdom of great thinkers preserved for me by the printing press. And all of this is because of the labors of men and women living and dead.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning and over my first cup of coffee I was slightly disturbed by a question that gently but insistently nudged me. The question was: What am I giving to the world? What are my labors leaving for the future of the human race? I am not a genius like Shakespeare, Schubert and Einstein but is there any value to the life I've lived?
As I go through my day, coping with weather, doing unimportant tasks, keeping a journal, worrying over a painting, learning something new, it is so easy to take for granted everything around me and the labors of the famous or anonymous people who make them, have made them possible. I think it is also too easy to take myself for granted. I am too close to myself to understand and appreciate who I am and what I'm worth, if anything.
I have no answer to the question except a hope and a desire. I want to believe, before I go, that my life, even with all of its mistakes, wrong choices, erroneous beliefs, failures and foolishness, was at last worth something, that the world is a slightly better place because I lived in it and that the inner or outer life of someone in the future will benefit from my humble labors. Or will it all just drip off the end of an icicle and evaporate like the snow?
Life is a forward thing. It isn't what I've done it's what I'm capable of doing that matters. So why should I waste my time and mental energies on the past when I could be designing, devising, determining. Today is today. Tomorrow is different. I want the difference to be according to me.
In keeping with that impetus here again is the:
(This is not a contest.)
Given the resources and opportunity, what one thing do you want to do in 2010 that you've never done before.
20 reponses so far.
You have all Winter to answer. Answers will be posted on the first day of Spring.
DB - The Vagabond