as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Monday, January 25, 2016
By TOM HENRY
Recent circumstances have forced me to better recognize what is truly important in my life. Believe it or not, those things that ARE truly important have nothing to do with what I wear, what I drive or if my favorite ball teams are winning or losing. They don’t even have to do with politics! Yeah I know…that’s just crazy isn’t it?
The other day, before it got bitterly cold, I was sitting outside, watching the birds and just thinking about life in general when it dawned on me…King Solomon was correct when he said, “all is vanity.” We expend great amounts of energy and worry about attaining or allow ourselves to be chained and paralyzed in fear, as we worked doubly hard trying to free ourselves from imaginary, self-created, self limiting obstacles and hazards. But ultimately, just like Job, I came into this world with nothing and will most assuredly also leave it with nothing.
So, if “you can’t take it with you” then what is life all about? How do I know that I am not wasting my limited time on this planet? It’s all about much loftier things like legacy, character, purpose, family, love, thankfulness and impact upon others. It’s certainly about taking the time to smell the roses and to notice and appreciate all the millions of wonders that we see everyday, but take no notice of.
I purposed within myself right then and there to leave a legacy that those that know me will remember me to be honest, loving, generous, loyal, appreciative, humble (ouch), fun, striving for excellence, defender of those too weak to defend themselves, a man that stands for what is right, a man that fully lived and hopefully helped make every person I come in contact with a better person for having known me.
I purposed within myself to not wear a mask as though I have already attained perfection, but to wear the brokenness of someone that knows I’m not, while striving to be a little closer to the mark each day.
I purposed to be better at fulfilling my God given role as father, mate, son, friend, employee, and etcetera.
I purposed to do my very best in everything that I do, but to ease up and forgive myself when I don’t achieve perfection. It is okay to make mistakes and the perpetual embarrassments over my imperfections are not a sign of “high standards” but rather of vain pride.
I purposed within myself to slow down and feast on the banquet called life. Savoring things like the warm, beautiful, playful smile of my girl, the scent of strong coffee, the harmony and emotion of good music, the texture and possibilities of a good book, the warmth and comfort of a sunny afternoon, the enjoyment and intimacy of good company, the reward of a job well done and the blessings of an extremely good life.
It matters not whether the glass is half empty or half full, if one does not at least drink the sweet tea it possesses. We can argue, debate and feel so proud of our academic exercises of rhetoric and analysis all we want, but its vanity if in the end, we’re still thirsty and longing for more.
I thank all my friends and family members that put up with me, now or have put up with me in the past. It certainly can be challenging to put up with me. I know that. And because I know it, it means all the more to me that some have chosen to remain when so many others have not.
I know for a fact that if I am asked five minutes before the moment of my death, what is most important in life and what regrets I had…I will not be discussing material gains such as large houses or cars…not even honors such as jobs or titles. I WILL be talking about people and moments and relationships. I fervently hope that when I’m gone, no one remembers or defines me based upon possessions or even vocational accomplishments/failures. I hope that people simply remember me as being a “good man” that lived well.