The Insignificant Life

“How important our insignificant life really is. What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world’s beauty, is everything!” H.P. Lovecraft

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Charles Darwin

“For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.” Albert Camus

So many times as I have moved onward with my life, I look back and recall various events. What is astonishing to me, is the people who stand out, as the ones who have either made a difference in my life or inspired me to do and be better. They are sometimes not the people that I knew well, or that played a significant role in my life, yet I clearly remember how they influenced me, and how they made me feel.

It just reminded me of the important role we have, regarding the impact we provide to others. Sometimes this influence is done unknowingly. It kind of makes one feel that those silly interchanges we experience daily with others, just might carry more meaning than we realize. I remember one person telling me about a friend, who had been a college buddy, way back in time. During their college years, this man was about to quit college, due to failing grades and loss of confidence. My friend stated how she had spent hours debating with this person, the reasons why he should stay in school. At the time they were not even close, just classmates in the same class. Somehow she sensed it was a huge mistake for him to quit, so she kept arguing, until he changed his mind and stayed, and graduated from college. The amazing end to this story is the quick rise to the top he made in a short time. This man became a tremendous influence for the positive in his career, which was a socially active one in the social services. Our simple lives are vital, in understanding the significant role we all play, as we interact daily with others. Of course it makes us comprehend how important, our insignificant exchanges of words and actions, actually are.

I relate this story because I think of it often when I feel like I wasted my time with another person, especially if they are basically a stranger to me. I recall instances at weddings or other such gatherings, when someone begins discussing an ache or pain, or lack of direction in one area or another. Once in a while I or another person has an answer, which makes them light up and smile. Most of the time we never see or hear or even remember their names, from that day on, but what a treasure we have given to them. For those who receive the aid, I suppose many don’t likely remember where they received the inspiration. I suppose we allneed a boost in life at one time or another.

It is okay because we don’t offer support with stipulations or rewards attached. We are also under no obligation of owing someone. I would suggest maybe we pay it forward when we can. This idea would set a precedence of constant giving and receiving. So many of us look at our lives and again we compare it to others, which we should never do. Of course we are always lacking in one area or another according to our own estimation. We are so hard on ourselves and I include myself.

If the truth were told, and we could remember all the insignificant comments we spoke almost randomly, we would be amazed at our thoughtfulness and depth of knowledge. If I have little money, and need to fix my car, and you tell me a good but cheap mechanic then I am going there. Most likely I am satisfied and driving to work, versus taking buses and becoming more annoyed and stressed. If I am hurting, due to a minor but irritating wound or illness, and you give me the advice I need to treat myself, then you have alleviated my pain, saved me an inconvenient doctor visit and bill, and saved me the time from work that I probably would have had to make up. The coach who takes a moment to encourage a less able athlete, with words of praise for a legitimate play, will do more to teach the player to keep working, than all the yelling and screaming at the kid.

I could go on with the stories, but the idea is to pay attention to others, and be mindful of their needs. It is easier to half listen to someone, and decide not to get involved, because we don’t know them well, or we don’t feel like getting involved. This is an omission of our duty to respond to others. We do have an obligation to respond to those we can help. We have lost the principle of that duty and accountability.

So many of us have never reflected on how we might be judged one day upon our death. It took a long time for me to figure it out at least for myself. I believe it has more to do with the unimportant things we remember to accomplish daily. Those are the significant items that will be observed one day. I know I see others shine, and they appear self assured, although perhaps that is a facade. I can’t fathom how to gain that same sense of confidence in myself.

I have heard it said from almost everyone I know, how they feel so unimportant. They sense that their lives contain no meaning. They have lost direction, and feel useless and unimportant to the world. I tell them that they have forgotten how many insignificant things they have said, and done for others, including their spouses and kids. Those unimportant actions are powerful enough to change the world.

I think of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If you haven’t seen it I would suggest you get it. It is old but extremely wonderful and inspiring to this day. The person couldn’t believe his life had meaning, and he kept waiting to make a difference in the world. He was waiting to do something worthwhile. At the same time, he was constantly giving to others, helping, listening, working and raising kids. Actually he saved his brother from drowning, when they were kids. He never thought of any of this being important. He never considered how relevant his life was, because it was so insignificant in his eyes. Of course it was only in his eyes. The world looks for other attributes for glory.

Everything we do has a domino affect. By saving the brother from drowning, he saved his mother from becoming alcoholic. It appears to be outrageous but in reality it is veracity at its’ fullest. Every act and word does have a result at the end. We are not always privy to it but it is truth. The story of my friends friend is truth. Her simple coaxing might have been the catalyst, that changed his mind and inspired him to become a most powerful influence, to an amazing number of people. Never never underestimate your value in this world. You are always at a good place, to make a difference. You have the power to influence strangers every day. The possibilities are only limited to your own boundaries. Don’t be afraid of the power you have to influence others for the better, and thus create a happier world. How vital and significant is your insignificant life.

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation.” Eudora Welty

“This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy.” Henry A. Wallace

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” William Morris

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

Originally published at pamreynolds.me on October 1, 2014.