We all have a beginning, a place where our story begins, a once upon a time. Regardless of whether it is a happy beginning or not, it is still our starting line. It is our first chapter. It is where we came from. It makes up our roots and sets our foundation. It is a piece of who we are, a part that makes up our whole.
We didn’t have control over that first chapter. We didn’t choose when to come into this world or to whom we were born. We didn’t choose whom we wanted in our life or whom we wanted to remove from it. The truth is during the first several chapters others made those choices for us.
Through life, we take those choices with us if not those people. We constantly grow and become the person we choose to be. We allow people into our life and dismiss others based on our own beliefs, feelings, experiences. We decide how we want to live our lives, how we want others to see us, how we want to see ourselves. When faced with the fork in the road, we choose our path as a single traveler with no one to force us in either direction. Even if we look to others for guidance, ultimately we are responsible for the step we take on the road we choose.
It is said that we tend to judge a person on the last chapter of their life. Eulogies are full of excerpts of final moments, the last few years, recent interactions.
“He was a great father, a great husband.”
“She was dedicated to her community, an exceptional volunteer having raised X amount of dollars in the last year.”
“Just last week we had dinner together and laughed about how old we’re getting. I can’t believe she’s gone.”
Maybe that’s just how the mind works, keeping the most recent in the forefront – easily accessible. And yet, there are so many more chapters to our story. Some that have never been read and will die with us one day. Others that will be forgotten because they were written too long ago for most to remember. Yet, each page holds the characters we allowed at that particular time in our lives, each paragraph the words shared with them and only them. Some will vaguely remember an early part of our story. Whether with joy or heartache others will simply remember the parts that made them feel something, stirred something within them.
Most will remember our final chapter. Live like it’s your final chapter.
“Remember that we have little time to gladden the hearts of those we walk with…be quick to love and make haste to be kind.” ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel