Norton: Changing the way we look at the ‘now’ moments of life can leave a lasting legacy (column)
Jimmy Buffet sings about a tattoo being a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling. Maybe for some that’s true, and for others, their tattoo does carry a reminder of something that is powerful and meaningful to them. It will be with them forever.
Whenever my family would take a vacation to the Jersey Shore, I would take them all out on a boat and we would go crabbing. And I would take them to the exact same places that I fished and crabbed with my grandfather. It is a memory that was built for them and one that they still talk about, and one that surely I will remember forever, as well.
And I love when I hear stories or read stories about someone’s relative or friend who built that bridge, or built that school, that building, or that house, or someone who worked on the railroad or pipeline decades ago, a railroad or pipeline that still exists and serves us well to this day.
Have you stopped recently and thought about what you are building or have built? Maybe sometimes we feel like we are only in the here and now and that whatever our job is, it is only for today and not for tomorrow. If we are only there for the paycheck, then we are missing a huge opportunity, regardless of the position we have. Who knows where that company will go, who will lead it or maybe who will acquire it one day? But if you played any part of the company’s success, you built something that will last for a very long time.
Perhaps we have lost sight of the fact that even within our families and in our family time together, we have the opportunity to build memories that will last forever. We are raising children who will one day grow up and change the world in some way. And they will raise children who will someday have an impact on this world, too. It could be a small or little impact, or who knows, he or she could be the next Bill Gates.
This idea of instant gratification and getting caught up in what we can have right now has eroded our ability to think of the overall contribution that we can make at home, at work and in our community. The “now” is here, in this moment, as you read this column. And everything we do — me, you, every one of us — everything we do right now builds something for someone in the future.
Maybe it’s your child who crosses that bridge that you painted one day. Maybe your friend’s cousin lives in that house you helped build. Maybe your great-grandchild gets a job at the company for which you worked. Maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people sleep in a shelter that you helped fund. And maybe someone you know or love, or someone generations from now, is cured through a therapy you helped to create.
The worst permanent reminder of a temporary feeling isn’t a tattoo, regardless of how silly that one tattoo that you did get was; no, the worst permanent reminder of a temporary feeling is when we have to look back months or years from now and say I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have participated in that. And it doesn’t matter what age we are, we can all contribute to something that will be permanent for someone else one day, something that will make a difference in this world, big or small.
If you want someone to have a permanent and positive memory of you, then love them, love on them, forgive them. If you have wronged them in any way, then reach out and make up for it, if you can. It’s never too late to create new things or build new and permanent places in someone’s heart. It’s never too late to start appreciating our jobs, our roles and all that we have a chance to contribute to in this life. All we have to do is replace the temporary feelings with a permanent belief system. We can do all of this while enjoying the “now” for exactly what it is: the “now.”
And yet looking past the “now,” and into the future, here we are at the end of one year and looking into the next. As we prepare for this next year, as we get ready to launch into next year, let’s think about doing so with a sense of permanence and longevity, because together, we are building the future.
So how about you? Are you caught up and stuck in the “now” kind of thinking? Or do you know that you have a much bigger role in this world? I would love to hear your story at email@example.com, and when we can focus on the “now” moments of our lives and how they contribute to the bigger picture and the future for all of us, it really will be a better-than-good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.