Inspiration From AgeAuthor: Byron Pulsifer, © 2017
Her name is Eileen Toole; 97 years young as of this day I'm writing. I came across Eileen in an article published by the Times and Transcript published in Moncton, New Brunswick on Monday, February 6, 2017.
It is not the first time that I've been impressed and grateful to read about senior citizens who have contributed so much to so many. And, I'm sure it won't be the last time that I am inspired by the stories of those who offer an inspirational tale to life around us. What particularly struck me about Eileen is that amidst the issues some of us will all face as we grow old is that she is able to keep the good before the not so good.
Do Not Dwell On Problems
She is quoted, in this article, as having said, "You have to have a way of not dwelling on your own problems. Work on them, but don't get depressed (about them)". The article goes on to talk about her contributions as a grade school teacher, a Grade 9 Math and English teacher, a piano player at her local Church, and her love and affection for her extended family. And, while you may think that her age means that she no longer has the zest to continue activities, you'd be wrong.
Impact of One
Before I read the article about Eileen, I had no knowledge of her existence. There was no famous book she had ever written, or prose composition that brought worldly recognition or a power position within politics or notable legal defences that contributed to the interpretation of the law of the land. However, she had the joy to contribute to society as a contributor of one. What does that mean to be a contributor of one?
Eileen had both the opportunity and responsibility to assist young people in her many years in many classes in schools where she taught. Each time she spoke, she made an impression. Each time she encouraged someone, or guided them through a challenging school assignment or spoke to them about something bothering them she was making an impact of one. She was only one person but that one person who made that on-going one comment, inspirational advice, or that one word of encouragement to keep going despite some difficulty with the subject or that one word of direction that affected that one person, she was making a significant contribution of one.
Without Fanfare Or Fame
Was Eileen a notable person; a person who you just had to find a way to meet and to enjoy some of her wise words or experiences of life? Probably not. Was she in her role as a teacher for fame and fortune? Very unlikely. So, what was her motivation?
Would it be wrong to suggest that she simply wanted to help by teaching because she loved children or loved to assist those growing and maturing? Would it wrong to suggest that her contributions to her Church as a piano player were out of her love to serve? Would it be improper to argue that her motivation to be with her family (her daughter in this case) was out of a desire to be nurturing, loving, compassionate, a friend and a care giver?
The Affect Over Time
I don't know if you can recall any of your grade school teachers, or high school teachers, or college or university professors? But, I'm sure along the way that you ran into many people who had an impact on your life. It may have been a teacher, a football or basketball coach, or a music teacher, or a family member who passed on a particularly insightful thought or a word or words of encouragement or simply a person who sat with you quietly as you delved into many of life's thorny issues. However, what you probably didn't have to do was go it alone; there was someone, somewhere who gave you the attention, love or compassion you needed just at the right time or right place.
So many people when asked who was a significant mentor in their life sit quietly without being able to vividly recall anyone. On the other hand, many people can spout off a rash of names who were there for them in a multitude of ways. And, given that there are people around who have contributed in some little or big way to each of us, the question is did they have an impact on your life?
You Didn't Start Out This Way
Every one of us has had a huge number of events, circumstances and people who have either directly or indirectly helped to shape where we are today. You didn't start out just the way you are today because everyone grows and experiences life whether they like the experiences or not. Each experience is interpreted through antecedents of past circumstances, events and people. But, I would suggest that a lot of how we view our experiences, the impact on us, or how we react to them has been shaped in large measure because of the people we have met along the way. If you have your children I bet you have had some thorny issues to address with them. How did you handle these issues? Did anyone help you through a thorny issue when you were younger or even recently? Did that shape how you responded to the issue with your behavior, attitude or counsel?
No Protective Bubble In Life
We are constantly shaped over and over again by our past experiences whether that be good or bad. If you have been fortunate enough to be guided down the right pathways as a young person, you carry these guidelines with you for the rest of your life. It doesn't mean, however, that you don't add to them or maximize them by new experiences. As well, if you have had it rough as a youth doesn't mean that you have to allow what happened before to be your guide. Everyone has a choice even as an adult to change that which is not of benefit.
We don't live in a protective bubble where we are immune from the vagaries of life nor do we live in a bubble where we never have to use what we have been taught or what we have learned.The inspiration to be better, to move forward, to become more skilled, to help more people is a growth experience outside of a bubble.
So much can be learned from walking along with Eileen as she traveled the winding road of life. Her inspirational attitude that never-give-in attitude, that zest to minimize problems or to work to resolve them is a mantle to be emulated. And, like Eileen, know this: you do have an impact, an influence on each person you meet. And, if you want to leave a legacy that out lasts any monetary one just consider the legacy you are already contributing to every day you act, behave and talk.
Every person has an opportunity to deposit vast amounts of good-will, inspiration and contributions in their life's bank. There is no one immune from the vestiges of time just as there is no one immune from the impact they have of those around them. How would you want to be known? What would you like someone to say at your funeral? I'm not being morbid when I talk about your funeral either. It is simply a reality, a fact of life. Time has a way of dashing by. Time carries on whether we like it or not and so does your life. You have a chance to write a phenomenal book about life; you have a chance to create a legacy that lasts as long as each person you influence spreads your influence in one shape or another.
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