This week something terrible happened to me that made me stop and think. And I bet the same sort of thing has happened to you too within the last 12 months. What was it? I had a birthday.
OK, it wasn’t so bad. I was very touched that a number of good friends clubbed together to get me a present. That was wonderful. What made me stop and think was the telephone call I had from my daughter. She said, “What do you want for your birthday Dad?”
And it made me think. What did I really want most of all? It wasn’t something that she could give me. It wasn’t something anyone could give me. What I wanted... was to do something. No I don’t mean anything like... go out for the day, or fly in a balloon, or some other adventure. Time was passing, and yet another birthday was reminding me of it. What I really wanted to do was to make a mark, to do something that made a difference in the world. And that was something I’d have to do for myself. It wasn’t something anyone could do for me, or give me.
I thought about a lot of things. I thought about religions like mine, that revere ancestors. I thought about how one day I’d be an ancestor myself for my daughter. I thought about the lines in the ancient poem called “The Words of the High One”, where Odin says that:
Cattle die, kinsmen die,And so I thought about how I’d like to be remembered. I realised that if I wanted to make a mark, I should decide what’s really important to me, and start doing it.
One day you day you die yourself
But words of praise will not perish
When a person wins a good reputation.
I realised that history builds up like layers, that it’s building up right now, and that the future’s an opportunity to add to those layers.
Maybe my children and their children will look back at me one day. And I hope that when they do, I’ll be worthy of the title “ancestor”.
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