I always take a few minutes at the end of each day to journal. I have found this time is always well spent. First I re-read the entries from the prior week or so – it helps keep things in perspective – to connect with what some Native Americans call the ‘long view’. Then I turn my attention to the day. I think about each thing that I did – the people I met – experiences I had – things that I learned – and how it felt to live through the day.
The last part of my reflection on the day is dedicated to thinking about the effects that I have had on the lives of others. It has seemed to me that making a difference in the lives of others is one of the best reasons for living. For example, I manage a charity called Fishing Cures that raises money in support of cancer research. We run a charity fishing tournament called Tom’s Team in memory of my brother. There is no salary. No expense reimbursement. But I consider time spent on it the best of the day.)
The very thought of being able to give these gifts is rewarding. Contributions such as these always seem to bring a triple reward – the first from the doing and a second from the knowing that my ‘gift’ has been received, honored and appreciated. But it is the third reward that I have been thinking about lately. You see the life of the gift extends beyond the acting of giving. That anticipation within that last thought always makes any day recently past more special.
When I am re-reading prior entries in the journal, the ‘gifts’ of past days stand out in relief. I wonder how the ‘gift’ is doing – has it grown into something unanticipated? And then comes the urge to check up on the ‘off-springs’. You might think that all I want to receive yet another ‘thanks’ – but nothing could be further from the truth. You see, gifts have a life of their own after the giving of them.
Many times I’ve had trouble recognizing the very thing I contributed to someone else’s life. A simple observation or suggestion seems to have grown into something much more than what came to light within my mind. It now is the product of two minds – or more. And when it is given back to me I receive much more that I gave in the first place.
As so who was it that made a contribution to whose life?
When I was younger I used to ask three paragraph questions – only allowing for one sentence answers. But lately I tend towards one sentence questions that may yield a lifetime of responses.
© Earl R. Smith II, PhD