I often wonder, whenever I see people who have attained a significant of amount of success, just how much help they had along the way. From a purely existential perspective, God was certainly involved in the mix. They wouldn’t be here to play the music, sing the song, perform the life-saving surgery without the souls of others being invested in their journey of accomplishment. After being a cancer survivor for over nineteen years, since diagnosis, the reality of all of us being the total of all our experiences to this point is a reality of which I’m keenly aware.
It’s confusing to me to hear anyone tout their accomplishments as if they were developed in a self-constructed vacuum. As brilliant or average as anyone may be, none of us can say unequivocally that we did it on our own. I recall one of my graduate school professors telling a story of a college professor, who routinely ignored and devalued the custodial staff in his department. One evening, when he chose to work late, there was a snow storm. The weather was horrendous. When he left for the evening, went to his car and tried to start it, it wouldn’t work. He didn’t want to get stuck away from home all night, so he went to the one custodial worker, who was on duty for the evening for help. To his disappointment, the staff member, who was on duty told him he couldn’t help. He said there was no jumper cables, or anything in the department that could be used to help him start his car. That was certainly true, but what the staff member didn’t tell him was that he had a set of jumper cables in his pick-up truck. That professor lost an opportunity to have another human being contribute to his development along his life’s journey.
I’m sitting here stroking away at the keys on my laptop, trying to communicate an idea to you. The simple task of me collecting thoughts and using symbols to place them on this electronic representation of a page, wouldn’t be possible without an enumerable host of people, who have entered my life at various points along the way. There was the first-grade teacher, and all the teachers through elementary and secondary school. There were college professors and mentors, who set aside time to share their knowledge and wisdom with me during times when they saw something lacking in my development. The amazing thing is that I can’t think of any souls, who had my best interest at heart, short-changing me of any guidance they had to offer. I am what I am due to all that I’ve experienced.
No, none of us does it on our own. Wouldn’t it be great, if we all could produce a list of all the people, who have made contributions to who we are after thirty, forty, eighty years, and send thank you notes to the ones still surviving. Short of that, consider trying to remember them all and make a pray of thanks to God for all of them. Somehow, I do believe those words of gratitude will get to the right place.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.