"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do not know if it was my mother’s love of Emerson that brought this quote into my life, or if I heard it from someone I have long forgotten, or if I read it on a coffee mug. This was one of my early lessons that I somehow took to heart as a young boy and worked it into my life. It drove me to make my own surroundings better, to do a better job on whatever I undertook, and, more recently, to help people in their struggle to get better or have a better life or make a better world. And we all know what better means!
The awakening man looks deeply into his soul for a vision of what he can be. His constant companion must be that greater vision, for it drives him to surrender himself to achieving a better life for, first, himself, and for others. He learns that better means discarding his childish ways, addictions, selfishness, grandiosity, and meanness. It means dealing with his shadows that haunt and ruin his life purpose.
He cries, screams, rages, and strides into the fire of his hero’s journey, through the inferno of his heart, to burn away the dross of his soul. He steeps his ego in the boiling pot of humility and brews wholeness for his cup. He learns to rise from the ashes of his wounds and proclaims a mission for his life, a mission filled with love, compassion, peace, value, the fulfillment of which is the offering of his own unique gold to the world.
He yearns to leave better wherever he goes, whatever his situation, for his family, his friends, and others. His contributions may be small, but no matter. They give his life joy and meaning, and that is enough!
What is your vision? Your mission? Your gold? How will you follow Emerson’s call to true success today? How will you leave the world a better place?
Photo credit: Credit: Austin Malleolo