Living Legacy: Unpacking the Impact of a Life Well-Lived
This week’s writing will be short and sweet. The concept of death is tough for many to grasp. Losing loved ones is about as hard as anything we can experience here on earth. This past week, my grandmother-in-law, Mary Ann Rizzo, passed away. Her viewing and funeral occurred this weekend, serving as a beautiful celebration of her life. It’s hard to imagine that the next time my wife and I visit her house, she won’t be there with her big smile to greet us. Although she won’t physically be present, her spirit and memory will forever live with us.
Funerals invariably serve as a great reset for me, compelling introspection and prompting examination of my life and choices. As I observed conversations about Mary Ann, two key themes were unmistakable: her caring nature and her ability to uplift those around her. No one spoke of her wealth or traditional markers of success. Rather, everyone discussed the significant impact she had on others — which, in my opinion, is what life is genuinely about. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder: “What would people say about me if I died today?” If conversations were to center around my athletic or professional accolades, then my time on earth would be a failure. While in my youth I may have been arrogant and self-serving, I now strive for humility and a commitment to serve others. My hope is that every interaction leaves the other person feeling better than before, providing a positive impact they didn’t know they needed.
Money comes and goes. Fame and recognition fade. However, the impact we have on others can last for generations. I don’t wish to minimize the time and effort we invest in our sports or professional careers as these are undoubtedly important. Rather, I want to emphasize what truly matters in life: how we treat ourselves and those around us. Thus, I challenge you to start putting things in perspective. Will it truly matter if you miss a game-winning shot, drop a pass, or lose a sale? Will these be the stories shared at your funeral? Unlikely. If the pain of losing a game is greater than the remorse from harming a loved one, then it’s time for introspection. Strive for excellence in all heartfelt endeavors, understanding that success and failure are temporary and fleeting, while your character is eternal. Most importantly, focus on uplifting those around you, like Mary Ann.
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