“The greatest comfort of my old age … is the pleasing remembrance of the many benefits and friendly offices I have done to others.” Marcus Cato
The Third Resolution implies a responsibility to live in some accordance with a noble purpose (which is arguably the ‘self’ part of the resolution) and the provision of service to others (the ‘other person centred’ element).
Cato’s quote is a gentle prod, or even a firm reminder to some of us, that to live a life selfishly results in the absence of a legacy when we shuffle off this mortal coil, whereas a true legacy – something we all want whether it’s a selfish or generous one – results from making good memories in the minds, and hearts, of other people.
Imagine a life led in such a way that even our families remember us with heavy, rather than glad hearts. Imagine someone being worse off for having known us, who bad mouth us long after we’ve gone.
I’ve often opined out loud that the one thing I want more than anything else is to be remembered but the caveat is that I want to be remembered fondly. I want to be remembered as a fun guy, with a weird sense of humour, but someone who would help when called upon. (The qualified ‘When called upon’ is included mainly because I occasionally fail to see an otherwise obvious opportunity to help!) I want to have ‘done some good’, or at least believe with conviction and evidence that I did so. So far I have four great, honest, hard-working and happy kids to be proud of, proud of both what they are and how they live.
In my writings on the Third Resolution I’ve often emphasised that ‘service’ begins first in the home, and even if it stays there it is valuable and ‘resolution-compliant’. Of course service outside the home and family, attached to that ‘selfish’ purpose, is a great and noble thing to provide – but it isn’t an absolute. There are people out there who do that, and they are unselfish, generous and great people. But sometimes we are restricted by limitations outside our control as to how much or where we can do good – but never whether we can do ‘good’.
Ask yourself if there is something you can do that is ‘good’, then ask if you can do that ‘good’ better. Is there some way to step up the level or intensity of the ‘good’ that you can do?
The answer, my friend is always – Yes. You just need to use your imagination.
Be good. Be great. And leave a legacy you can (indulgently) be proud of.