First of all a quick correction. Last week I implied that Ernest Hemingway was the source of a quote leading me to write that I’m not all used up yet, so I refuse to die. It was in fact George Bernard Shaw’s quote I was vandalising. Doh!
He said, “This is the true joy in life, being recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being a force of nature instead of a feverish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake; Life is no brief candle to me, it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for a moment. I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
That seems to be a great mantra for life, particularly now as the better of us watch as the lesser of us hoard toilet rolls, pasta and hand-sanitiser – the latter reflecting an unwillingness to routinely wash hands, if my experience of seeing empty sanitiser shelves by full soap shelves is anything to go by.
Life is one chance to leave a lasting legacy. For some it need only mean raising healthy, good children so as to pass on the family line. For others it means making sure they are remembered for doing something memorable and lasting – which can be done with good or bad intent. Some of us will never know what we did that lasted in the memory.
There is an old tenet that suggests that we all remember a teacher that meant something to us in terms of how they made us better. And for most of us who had such a teacher we never got to tell them.
I was lucky. A couple of months ago a new school was opened and elder statesmen from the old buildings assembled, along with ex-pupils. Sat in front of me was the maths teacher and deputy Head who took me, with his teaching method, from a 50% maths examinee to an A grade at O Level (the old GCSEs). I can’t even remember specifically what else he did or said – I know there was something that made me change my attitude slightly but it was really subtle. But at the end of the proceedings that night I was able to tell him, “You know everyone had that one teacher -well, you were mine.”
He had no idea who I was, but that’s the beauty of teaching – so many unremembered souls that can be affected by what you do.
Anyway, here’s today’s suggestion. You may not be a teacher in the formal sense, but everything you do is seen by someone. Everything you say is heard.
So say good things and do good things and be a good example.
Someone is watching. Including your kids.
Put the extra ten packs of toilet rolls back on the shelf.