Sometimes, I wonder…………………
It’s an interesting line of thought to consider what this world would be like if you are not in it. Beyond the philosophical questions, let’s just look at this idea literally. Everything remains the same, but YOU are not here.
Of course, age has a lot to do with it. The longer you have lived, the more you have experienced and whether you believe or not, the more influence you have had on events around you. A younger person simply hasn’t been around much to impact his or her world.
This exercise is good because it isn’t asking us to question our decisions; it isn’t asking us to pass judgment on ourselves or others. It simply asks: What would have happened if I hadn’t been here?
This question is much different than the concept of feeling humbled or guilty. I’ve heard people say (and rightly so) that they compare their problems with others and see that they don’t have it so bad after all. This is not the concept I mean; I want to know what the world is like if I’m not here. Who was affected and who was affected the most? And what was changed and why?
For the sake of this column, I decided to do the exercise. I am not a doctor or scientist studying cancer cures; I am not a fireman or policeman who saves people; and I am not an explorer or astronaut. So I know that my absence won’t be as dramatic as someone in one of those vocations.
But I am alive and have been for more than 50 years; I have children and have helped raise them, so I have done something even if it’s not on a grand scale.
Unless one is a prodigy or a world class athlete, there isn’t much you can do before age 21 and adulthood. So, I am keeping my focus on the past 30 years. Yes, I know that younger people can save another person from drowning, for example; but that one’s obvious! If you weren’t here, that other person would have died. There is no real thought needed for that one; let’s stick to the more mundane.
Of course, one can have an effect on others and not know it. So, if that has occurred in your life, you must leave it out because you don’t know it exists. If that special someone tells you, then you can decide if it’s something relevant in your series of years on earth.
For me, I was the leader of a student run national organization in college. I like to think that I impacted others in what we were trying to do. But if I wasn’t here, then someone else would have done that one. I don’t know of any direct influence because no one ever told me, so if it happened, then that (or those) person (or people) wouldn’t have been influenced in the same way.
In the past 30 years, I have married two women who have already had children. (Not at the same time, of course!) A couple of those children are in the work force and have families of their own now. I think that even if I weren’t here, that most likely, they still would be productive members of society.
One is a minister though; and it’s easy to see that he may not have gone that way without me in his life. (Yes, I realize it is possible, but I’m making the case for if I’m NOT here.) So, the opposite is true: that I am indirectly influencing everyone he ministers to. He is their minister; and that is powerful stuff! If my stepson doesn’t become a minister, then those people are affected differently because he isn’t there since I wasn’t there to begin with.
I’m not taking any credit for his work or calling. No, I am simply going through the exercise to show what this world might look like if I weren’t here.
That is an easy one. In other aspects of my life, it isn’t so easy to see the changes. I know my best friend throughout junior high and high school is different without me. Did I save him from doing something irrevocable? I don’t know, but maybe………………….
I taught for a few years in various capacities. If I weren’t here, those students get a different teacher and therefore, they will be different in the long run. As a teacher, one has many influences on young people; another easy one.
I didn’t save any lives, but my stepson did……..at Scout camp one summer. If I am not here, does he even go into scouting much less summer camp? And if not, is there someone else there to save that guy that day? Maybe that victim drowns that day instead………….indirectly because I’m not here.
I lived in Minnesota for three years in the 1990s. Did I influence people or their thoughts of Texans? Probably; and now they know more than they did. If I’m not around, do they get to learn that at that specific time in their lives? No, they don’t. Maybe, it isn’t much and doesn’t matter in the long run, but if I’m there, it is something; so if I’m not, it is missed.
My first wife and I adopted a child. So, of course, if I weren’t around, then that boy doesn’t get adopted or is older when he does if at all. Automatically, the process and experience for him is different. I was there at the right time for him. Would anyone else have been there if I weren’t here? The odds are against it. The boy definitely would be changed by my absence.
I have written this column for more than 10 years. (Hopefully), people have been informed and maybe influenced by my opinions and information. If I’m not here to do it, there is no influence to give.
My other children are not here or simply different if I’m not around. That’s another easy one.
When life seems hard or there seems no end in sight to problems, think about this exercise. Life would be different and not as good without you. You may not have much materially, but you are influencing lives and people just by being you, which in turn influences the world.
This exercise is important to see what one has accomplished in life. You may not feel like you have done much, but just ask those people whose lives you have touched and you will get an answer………………