Posts Tagged ‘life is good’

LEGACY 17: The Significance of Productivity

June 2, 2018

My son raised a question about my last blogpost (about Gary M. and NOT FITTING THE MOLD), the question of what my point really was. And reading back through it, I realized I didn’t make that clear. I’ll do that in a later post, but for now I want to go on. I’ve committed to writing a post every day I can possibly manage it, so this is today’s.

Part of posting every day is being productive. And productivity is important to me. It adds significance to my life, makes me feel useful and valued, and in many cases, creates tangible results in other people’s lives. Our company does electrical contracting, and I like being able to look back at accomplishments that are concrete and visible: a Cracker Barrel, a Firestone Auto Care, retrofit lighting in some major buildings in the Greenville SC area (Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Brookwood Church auditorium, a Carolina Handling/Raymond facility, and others), a large generator installation at local assisted living facility (Capstone R&H in Easley), etc.

Personal and business connections are also a way of being productive. I can scroll through my memory and enjoy events, interactions, conversations that have added value. They are too numerous to even try to list—I’m almost 66, and having just completed 25 years full-time in business and 45 years doing electrical work (41 as a master electrician). But having just completed a celebratory event in which I listed a summary of accomplishments, I was surprised at the “long obedience” Nietszche spoke of

The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/816360

I have to say that the productivity that has resulted from my “long obedience in the same direction” has made MY life worth living. I think it has made others feel the same. I have said many times that my goal is to get to the end of my life, so far as the power lies within me, with everyone feeling that they were better for having known me. There will be exceptions, obviously. Life isn’t perfect. Mistakes happen. But to do the best you can, and do the best you can to correct mistakes, is the best you can do. (Kind of circular, perhaps, but true.)

I told my pastor and his wife a week or so ago that the one thing I would want as my epitaph, to be spoken at a ceremony celebrating my life when I’m gone, is that my life fulfilled the quote by St. Irenaeus: The glory of God is man fully alive. I want to have been fully alive. I want to be fully alive now. I want to continue to be productive until I stop breathing. “Retirement” is an opportunity to be more productive in more ways than I’ve been before.

I like slogans like “Life is good” and “It doesn’t get any better than this” (in the positive sense that “This is great!” rather than the negative “It’s all bad, and it just doesn’t get any better.”).

I want to make people laugh longer and more often, love more deeply and more fully, live more vibrantly and jubilantly. I want to be deep-rooted with good-tasting and abundant fruit. Producing significance in our lives is our calling, our mandate. It can be our greatest joy.

This I want to be my legacy.

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“A Rock Feels No Pain…” BUT

February 3, 2013

I woke early this morning with the final lines of old Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am A Rock” playing in my mind—the part they play slowly at the end: “…and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries”—an appealing thought to many in our society, especially when the pain has been great, and the tears many.

Still, not feeling pain can be a bad thing, as lepers and paralytics know—it can lead to physical damage to body parts that fail to respond to stimuli, and can result in infections, sickness, even gangrene and death. (I know this personally from the death of my first wife, but that’s another story for another time.) And never crying can lead to psychological constipation and emotionally stunted growth, and who knows what else. Pain and trauma internalized can be tragic.

But even more tragic are the things that are missed. A rock never gives birth to a child, an idea, or a business. A rock never experiences the pleasures of life or the blessings that pain can sometimes bring. An island cannot cry tears of joy either. A rock never moves or grows or changes. An island doesn’t multiply, or grow families, or have dinner with anyone.

I don’t want to be a rock, eroding slowly, almost eternally, only becoming sand after eons. Not for me the eternal life of the Cumaean Sybil, who forgot to ask for eternal youth, shriveling up until eventually she was placed into a jar.

I want to live and breathe and laugh and cry. I want to feel pain enough to know what true joy is. And one day I want to die gloriously, even if it’s in my sleep. Meanwhile, I want to know people to the fullest—even those who fail me, intentionally or not.

And if I am not remembered in a hundred years, what I have done that is good will still live on in the lives of those who followed, and those whom they blessed and carried on.

I love stories of people who find encouragement in some of the bleakest circumstances, who take lemons and make lemonade—and then set up a stand and sell it, or even give it away. Aron Ralston, who spent 127 hours with his arm trapped by an 800-pound boulder, and who had to cut it off to escape. The rugby players who endured 72 days in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie, who, in the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, was able to be thankful for fleas—simply because it meant it kept the guards out, and allowed them to pray, and sing, and fellowship, and to be safe for a moment. She died before getting out—but Corrie lived to tell. The stories like those in Ben Sherwood’s book The Survivors’ Club. Victor Frankl’s story in Man’s Search for Meaning. Bill Strickland’s Making the Impossible Possible. The list goes on and on. I love rambling through the archives in the caverns of my mind.

Life is good. All of life. Somehow. Some way. I know there is a lot of bad—but life IS good! And feeling—and feelings—help make it so. I’m not a rock—thankfully. To re-paint Descartes, “I feel, therefore I am.”

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

–James 1:2,12 in THE MESSAGE [Peterson]