(ATLANTA - original date: 27 May 2008 | updated on 4 May 2011) :: In many ways, we *are the people around us.
We are an amalgam of personalities, legacies, love, hatred, ambivalence, random acts of all kinds - and yet we wake up some days thinking the entire world tilts on our axis; that everyone is against us and the sky is falling. And if you look just a little bit closer, you’ll see that’s a bunch of hooey.
Why does it matter? In the end, come judgment day - if you subscribe to such an idea - aren’t we all just gonna be part of the earth, anyway? I mean, why am I yammering on about people, the friends and family, new and old, unseen and known, who've taken the time to read, to listen, to love? Does my train of thought actually have a caboose? Maybe. This is about knowing where love lies... about where it breathes, how we contribute to its collective, where it compounds itself and how, and when it's likely to happen again. When we turn the right stones, or seek the right fortune, there it will be. And that's for those of us lucky enough to have found love more than once, in more than one person; who are brave enough to risk the fool after getting the shaft and going great guns to find it again.
Truthfully, we're all faced with many great challenges over the term of our lifetimes. Our resiliency during these periods often help shape the way we cherish ourselves, and equally important, each other.
Jimmy Roberts, sports reporter for NBC and commenting on Andre Agassi some time ago, shared this spontaneous, eloquent gem about a person's unspoken impact: "An old friend of mine used to say that there are people in this lifetime who leave footprints. In other words, there are these people, and we all know them, who have an impact. They aren’t necessarily the best at what they do; they might not always behave the way we wish they might, but they make an impact on all of us."
This thought is true for everyone - not just those like Andre, whom we might put on a pedestal. Consider Chris "Crusty" Haddle's fight against mucinous adenocarcinoma, which caused a dull ache he detected in his lower abdomen that felt like simple appendicitis, but turned out to be stage-two cancer that required radical surgery. He'll need six months of chemotherapy to make sure nothing has spread.
Also consider Gene Rector, who was officially diagnosed today with lymphoma, and who will start with his doctor on a treatment course that will likely include chemo *and* radiation since it has spread to his spleen.
So what's or who is at work here? None of us can point to one thing. But the remaining residue - both in emotional and metaphysical terms - is that we should always know the fingerprints that our friends, family, neighbors, strangers on the street, anyone, leave on us. They contribute to your own. They are the cherished gas in our engine, the great person we've not yet met, the random person in public with whom you've just connected somehow... on a road that would be much more boring and barren without them.
So, run to the windows, rush to the phone... tell your mother, your friend, even someone you're unsure about. Tell them their impact. Crusty and Gene have both in their own ways changed me for the better, and for that I'll always be grateful.
Being good to each other, even when it might step on your own purpose or agenda, is tantamount to a peaceful coexistence. Think about it. If we use that mission in everything we do - from the politicians we choose down to the type of milk we buy - we'll see a spontaneously different world around us.
Because someday, somehow... someone will see your "footprints" in the sand, your fingerprints on something great, and admire the decisions you made. - WP