Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Fifty-Year Shelf-Life

How old are you?
How long will you live?
When “it” is all over...
will any of “this” matter?

Recently I read a startling statistic...
that within Fifty Years of our death
the average person is completely forgotten.

How do you feel when you read that?
Stop for a minute and think about it...
if we have children, and then perhaps grandchildren,
they will be the only ones who recall anything significant about us.
When we stop to think of all the people who the world “remembers”
fewer than .01% will make a lasting impression.
We can try to recall the winner of a Pulitzer, a President, an Athlete or Entertainment Celebrity, but most names will go unrecognized within 50 years of their light being extinguished.

When I walked “the yard” at OSP in 2007 there were few inmates over 60 years of age, fewer still over the age of 70, and I believe I there were only three over age 80. One looked like he could be a ‘grandpa’, small with hunched-over shoulders, he would walk the running-track every day. No one bothered him, and many gave him “room” when he went by. I asked someone about this; they said he was doing “life” and had been “inside” for over sixty years. Because of this situation most prisoners & guards gave him space and respect. I cannot recall his name, nor did my informant know it, but he had heard the story before; how this ‘old-timer’ had robbed trains in the late 1940’s, and without more details knew only he had served 60+ by now. No one knew if he had visitors come to see him from the outside, and no one seemed to talk to him there on the inside. Alive, but alone, his life seemed... meaningless.


I don’t know where you are in your life,
but I know I want my life to have more meaning.
Perhaps not so I can be “remembered”,
but so my “flash-in-the-pan-life” can have purpose.
My job may do little to influence the world,
and my writing still has yet to improve enough,
but here is the one thing I do know:
loving others matters,
and helping people helps them to matter.
So when I am gone, few may recall my name
but I will die knowing I tried to make a difference.

If all we ever do is try to “get-ours”,
then we will die as a ‘by-note’ in the annals of time,
an asterisk for our deeds- good or bad,
and then we are no more...
forgotten, forever.
Unless you have faith in Christ,
then you have hope for eternity with him!
But even if you do not believe,
then try
to do something worthwhile for someone else
and perhaps you will somehow matter
if only on your death-bed when you recall
those you reached out to in love.

I wish I could go back to see that “old-timer”,
to talk with him if only for a few minutes,
to help him smile one more time
and ease his burden of walking alone
that waiting for the last breath to come
may not be so meaningless,
because someone took the time
to let him know they care.

Will you do the same for another?


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