We are completely and inescapably part of other peoples’ worlds, and they of ours. It is impossible to separate ourselves from this truth. Previously one of the most lonely places in the Universe – the ISS orbiting above our heads – became the centre of a Internet phenomenon, thanks to the inimitable (and rather melodious) Cmdr Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield). Even that barrier is broken down completely now, the result of the internet and our shrinking world.
Being an influence on others is a vocation for some; they deliberately set out to influence others. Some do it for personal gain, others for the good of others. Coaches, teachers and social workers, by way of off-the-cuff examples of the latter. There are however many; most, even; for whom being an influence is not a vocation, or even a conscious reality. It is a random accidental side effect.
Incredibly, most people go through life largely insensitive to two fundamentals – one is “I am being influenced”, and the other is “I am an influence”. We have our moments of clarity, but mostly we wander through our days too self engrossed as the main actor on our little stage, to realise our choices are changing things around us, and that other peoples choices are influencing us!
That just doesn’t seem terribly productive or wise…
I think we need to choose lives of deliberate, and not random influence, regardless of how narrow or wide our spheres of influence might be. Living lives of random impact is such a waste. Bobbing around aimlessly, with a short little span of attention; randomly influenced by whatever crosses our path, and being ok with the fact that we randomly – and even worse, purposelessly – have an impact on others…
It is sad that all some people do is get to the tail end of a day and call it a success. Just making it through without a major calamity is a win. Of course, we all make it through. There is very little else we can do! As Alanis Morrissette sang “The only way out is through”, and I can’t argue with her. Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses – family, friends, colleagues, etc – what I can ask us all about, though is that since making it through is pretty much inevitable, what kind of statement do we make in how we arrive?
What does it look like when we emerge from the challenges. That, I think is entirely, entirely, ENTIRELY up to us. Do we arrive like a shipwreck survivor, dragging themselves barely alive onto the sand, or do we arrive like a celebration of ourselves, with a symphony of stories to tell, and having left it all out there on the field?
Not choosing, is a choice. Not deciding, is a decision. There is no escape. What sets people apart from each other is, I guess, that some people avoid the responsibility of choosing, and being accountable for their choices, so they get around it by “not choosing” and then saying “Well, it happened to me, so I am not responsible”. Or maybe it’s that fear of success because “the problem with success is that you then have to keep on succeeding” as someone said. This is the kind of attitude where, in the big picture, they are just dragging themselves out of the water after a shipwreck.
Seems to me those whose “getting through” is something worth looking at, something to celebrate are those who realise that consequences are inevitable, and deciding what those consequences will be is the best way. These people are heroes. They live lives worthy of emulating, taking on struggles with a view to coming out better on the other side… and better yet, they live conscious of the example they set and the eyes that are watching them. These are people who understand what it is to be a father, a mother, a friend, a coach, a spouse. They understand that we feed off each other. We become stronger and better, more courageous and resilient, by following the good examples we see around us, and we learn and improve as we interact with people worth learning from. They are heroes to their families, to their friends, to their colleagues. These are the people who say “I will NOT let my world be a negative in the life of anyone I touch. My world will bring joy. My world, my journey, my story, WILL invigorate and stimulate others.
They say: “I will learn from those who have preceded me, and I will be an example to those coming after me.”
I like these people. I seek them out and then I keep them close. I am better for it.