A friend of mine recently catered an event where a number of internationally known ecumenical leaders were present, including the Dalai Lama. His tale about the experience included recollections about the strict security, the atypical menu and the Dalai Lama’s exuberance for the food. It was indeed an excellent “brush with greatness” (or in this case with “holiness”) story, and it got me to thinking; what are the impressions we leave on the people whose lives we brush against? Or taken slightly differently, what mark do we make in our own lives?
Though the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis may know us on so many levels that their picture of us is well-rounded and filled not just with our “high points” but our foibles as well, that doesn’t mean our impact and impression on them is not great. Each of us has a remarkable impact not just on our own selves but on those around us in both lifelong and transient ways. So what is does that impact look like? Yesterday, I had a bit of a “tiff” with my fifteen your old son – not about anything of great substance but about some “little stuff” in our shared experience and upon reflection I really was not happy with how I handled it. I can blame on being over tired and distracted by a number of issues I was trying to juggle at the time, but the truth of the matter is I just wasn’t really thinking clearly about what I wanted to accomplish in that conversation and how to get it done in a way that was clear, considerate and respectful. At his end, he too was over tired and distracted by thoughts of what he would prefer to have been doing in the moment and the result was – less than ideal.
I recognize that many of our interactions with others are going to be less than perfect. That’s just the way life is – and hopefully in the big picture our overall assessments of one another will be marked more by our love, admiration and respect for each other than by frustrations with each other’s impatience and disappointments. Still and all, I am striving to be mindful of how I impact the lives of the people in my world, from the clerk at the check-out to my beloved sons, and I hope that my overall footprint is a good one. There is an exercise I have come across in my studies of having people write their own eulogies. It’s a powerful one when you think about it – isn’t it? How would you summarize the life you have led and how you lived it? Does the story you write resonant with the life you are leading today and if it doesn’t what do you want to do to get it in-sync with the words you would like to be able to write? Each day we have the opportunity to add new details to that story – and you never know, likely you will be the brush with greatness (at least in a “less-than-famous” sort of way) in the lives of other people around you. The impact we each have is great – why not strive to make it the one we would like it to be?