Friday, December 30, 2011

50 Years, Did They Matter?

Fifty years ago today, it snowed in Muncie, Indiana. It was a beautiful, fluffy snow that coated all the tree limbs and power lines, and gave the landscape a bright, soft feel. That is how my dad described the day I was born to me years later.

50 years.

Where did they go? It’s like I took a nap and I’m now half a century old.

When I was born, John F. Kennedy was president. We had not yet gone to the moon. Our black and white TV only got 3 ½ stations. Nobody had ever heard of a microwave oven, a cell phone, the internet, or even something as mundane as self-serve gas stations. Computers existed, but they took up entire rooms, and NO ONE had one at their house. I probably have more memory space in my Blackberry now than some of those old prehistoric computers did back in those days. No one had ever heard of video games either. The closest thing was a pinball machine, and you had to go somewhere outside the house to find one. Now, you can play video games on your tablet computer against people you’ve never met halfway around the world.

I wonder what things will be like in another fifty years?

It is my personal goal to reach the date of December 30, 2061 while still retaining a fairly good quality of life. I just want to see what things will be like then. I bet if we could leap forward, it would blow our minds.

I asked myself a question today. I took a long drive back up to my hometown, had a Pizza King Royal Feast, then I drove over to Ridgeville, Indiana to see if I could find the place where my grandma lived when I was a little kid. I found it because I recognized the little creek and bridge I used to play around. It looks exactly the same. On the way back, I stopped at a Speedway Station in Pendleton, Indiana for a drink, and that’s when the question occurred to me.

The water tower in Ridgeville, Indiana.  I like water towers for some reason.

Have I done anything with my 50 years that really makes any difference?

I think I’m a pretty good salesman. I’ve been doing it a long time, and most of my customers seem to like and trust me. However, when I have finally moved on, I’m guessing that within a few months or a year, I’ll just be another guy that came and went. Even if I were to be promoted into some corporate leadership position, nothing that I could ever do there would matter much beyond my tenure. Stuff people do just doesn’t matter much after enough water has gone under the bridge.

I like to write. I write blog posts. I write an occasional poem for my wife. I’m working on a larger project that I hope one day will be a book. Even if I succeed in getting published and become even a little famous, it won’t last. I hope I can get good enough at it to someday make a little money with it, but fame and a little money won’t last much beyond my lifetime. How many authors do you know from 50 years ago? A handful maybe. How about 100 years ago? I’d bet the list got shorter. Go back further, and you’ll see that the further back you go, the list of authors with lasting power continues to dwindle.

So, what could I do with my life that would really matter?

I’m reminded of the quote from Clarence the angel to George Bailey in the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life: “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

My hope really is that I’ll simply make a difference to people I interact with on a daily basis, so that one day I can be remembered as someone who mattered to them.

I think that is the reason that I write some of the blog posts I put up. It’s stuff that helps me, and I’m hopeful that it can be helpful to someone else.

I want to be like one of my family’s old neighbors from my childhood. Emma Ogletree was a young housewife and someone who was committed to Christ and Christian service. She was simply nice to me, and she reached out in service to my family. As a direct result of her simple sharing, I am a Christian today, my daughters are both Christians, my mother eventually became a Christian, my Uncle, my nephew…and others that I have influenced along the way. Someone made a difference to her, she then made a difference to me, and as a result I was able to make a difference to some others, and the chain goes on.

Emma Ogletree and her kids
The thing is, the only REAL difference I can make in this world is not truly of this world. I could build skyscrapers, but eventually they would come down. I could establish an empire, and eventually it would fall. I could set records, but someone else would break them. The only thing that will matter into eternity is to make a spiritual difference to someone else…to help them in their search for God.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20

Fifty years have come and gone. I hope I’ve helped a few people. But, now I’ve got a new half century ahead of me, and I’m hopeful that I’ve gleaned some wisdom from the first fifty that can make me even more helpful going forward.

Time to pay it forward some more…keeping the chain alive…

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mike for all the little things you did for me and my boys. You have made a difference!

    Janet S