A friend of mine recently died of cancer, and he died way too young. I spent a lot of time at the visitation in a funeral home, paying my respects and talking with friends. The next day I attended the funeral service at a church. When the service wrapped up, I ate way too many ham finger sandwiches and washed it down with a bucket potato salad in the church basement. Weird food like this somehow makes people talk, it’s the magic of church lady cuisine. It seems like almost every conversation I had was about how the world will be a little less sweet without Jim as a part of it. Person after person and conversation after conversation swirled around how he could change the energy in a room. He could motivate people beyond their potential. He could help people who were floundering and spinning their wheels in life to seize the moment and do great things.
Yet, I don’t think Jim ever knew it. I don’t think he realized the impact he had on his community of family and friends. He just thought he was being himself, but didn’t know the power that “being himself” had on others. We often lament that the people who need to hear the good and beautiful things at funerals are the guests of honor… and like Elvis, they have already left the building.
This is why I love the quote attributed to Mark Twain—“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
There is pulsing power of life in each of those moments—birth and discovery of one’s purpose. What does it take to discover that power before life is gone? What does it take to discover the latter before friends gather to eat sandwiches and share what you never knew or had the courage to know about yourself?