I was talking with my cousin today about how I occasionally question my career. Not so much advertising, but automotive advertising.
I’ve always considered myself a car person, and while I love advertising, those two words together make me suspect that I’ll look back on my life and wonder what my contribution really was.
I helped sell cars? That’s it?
“Well, I suspect that if you made a list, you’d find that you have a number of accomplishments and achievements throughout your life on there,” he said.
I thought about it for a second. Sure, I guess he’s probably right. But are they true contributions to the world and to humanity?
“And I suspect that you probably have quite an influence over the people around you.”
Hm, maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really know, and honestly, I wondered — if I did have “quite an influence” over the people around me — whether knowing would be such a burden that I’d then begin to question my every move.
“I think you should start a list. You don’t have to complete it all in one sitting, but you should start one. Just a list. Journals are good, too, but go with the list. And don’t forget, you can’t be too hard on yourself. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be critical toward you. Don’t you be one of them.”
I spent more time this afternoon thinking about what he’d said. What if I got to my final days and the list had few heavy-hitting items on it, but was instead populated with small, inconsequential things that only meant something to me?
I thought how sad it must be for someone who might survive me to look at it and say, “This is all she did? I thought there’d be more.”
But then I realized that if that ever happened, hopefully that person would take my measly list and vow to do better.
To do more.
To encourage others to do more.
And then I realized that even in death, a life can be meaningful. If inspiration is transferred from one who has passed on to a soul still living, where is the harm in that?
There isn’t any.
Tonight I am thankful for my cousin who reminded me to go easier on myself, and to start a list — if not for any other purpose than to remind myself of my personal achievements and, perhaps better, inspire younger generations.