Ever get caught with that random smile on your face that seems to have come out of nowhere? The one where someone sees you and says “What?” and you realize you were smiling because a great memory of someone had crossed your mind?
A friend of my husband’s and by extension, mine, passed away last year. It was completely unexpected and he was way too young. My husband and him were pretty good friends, but it wasn’t like we saw him every day or we all spent a ton of time together. He was one of those people filled with a ton of energy, genuine, true to himself, respectful, and at times, a bit off the wall in his thinking and his actions. Being around him was a bit of a crapshoot as you never knew what he was going to do, but it was always an experience you remembered and often times, you would be laughing about it later. There are some great stories about the tree people documentary he saw on the Discovery Channel and a particular incident in a Mexican restaurant, but they aren’t as funny if you weren’t there and even less so, if you didn’t know him.
What is interesting though to me is how much we talk about him now. The most random things will trigger a thought about him. My husband and I will look at each other and just start laughing and commenting on something he did, said or a guess at what he might think. And we realize we miss him, more than we knew we did, and we smile. It is the lasting impression of his character that has stuck with us. It was how he made us feel, how he treated those he kept close in his life, and did I mention he loved his pet chickens?
In my last post I was talking about who we let into and keep around is in our lives and being ok with letting people go if they are toxic to our well being, but I hadn’t mentioned the role we play in our own environment. And then I thought about our friend, and smiled.
“Show respect to even those who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”
We all make choices every day. Not only do we choose who keep in our life, but we also need to think about our responsibility in creating the environment around us. I encourage you to look inside yourself and ask yourself how you are doing. Are you adding negativity, anger, and resentment to your environment or are you adding love, respect, empathy, and compassion? It is a choice. We make it over and over again, numerous times every day with every personal interaction we have. We have to hold ourselves accountable for what we put out into the universe.
This has nothing to do with changing anyone’s beliefs or everyone needing to agree or lettings things go. It is about how we treat the people we come across in our day to day. Our environment and how people will remember us comes down to fundamental respect and compassion for one another as human beings. We all have our own life struggles, some beyond our wildest imaginations, but as fellow occupants of this planet we need to each be responsible for our own corner of the world. When you conclude your time on this planet, how will people remember you? Will they remember you with a smile?
I know I would prefer people to smile when they think of me, both now and after I pass. I also know that I have to continue to work on my thoughts and actions like everyone else. It comes down to this – we are the making of our own legacy. Our friend, I think he would be amazed if he had any idea the way he has touched so many people. I will smile at the memory of him and only hope to someday be someone else’s reason to smile.
Wishing you all the very best day and until next time,
PS – For everyone wondering about my elephant, she has slowly started making a turn for the door.