Who will cry when they first learn you're gone?
Ok, I don't want to be the philosophical version of Debbie Downer here, but we need a second day on the topic of death, I think, but only obliquely, and as the source of a question. Yesterday, I mentioned an announcement in church of a great man's impending departure. Immediately, tissues and hankies were visible all over the sanctuary, as people dabbed their eyes. And that caused me to reflect on a very sad fact. There are top leaders in the world of business who seemed to have nothing more than an acquaintance relationship to their own family members. Their time is always spent elsewhere, and their energy. And at work, they're all business. They don't go around touching the hearts of others.
The people who will cry when they first learn that you're gone will be the people whose hearts you've touched with kindness and love, with affection and concern, with support and encouragement. How many are there? That, to me, is a measure of a life well lived. And we don't all measure up as we would like. But as long as we're still here, we can do something about it.
I think it's interesting to use what I like to call "The Inner Circle Principle." Your life can be imagined as contained within concentric circles. Family and best friends are the closest, innermost circle. Then, there are increasingly remote orbs of friends, co workers, neighbors and other acquaintances who also surround you. Ideally, you should be touching people's hearts in every contact you have. They deserve that. And so do you. But as a practical matter, it can help to concentrate first on the inner circle of people in your life - family and close friends. Are you acting toward them with kindness and love, affection and concern, support and encouragement? Are you paying attention, and doing the little things that will help them and touch their hearts? Or are you always in a hurry, distracted, and needed elsewhere for "important things"? These are the important things.
Give people what they most deeply need while you're here, and you'll make them wish you would stay on and on. And then, when they do learn that you've left for a distant shore, some tissues and hankies will likely appear to signal the good memories that you've left in their hearts.