Yesterday I accompanied Caroline's class on a field trip to a local museum. We had a great time and afterward Caroline informed me when the excursion was over, two little boys who had been in my group got into a fight over whom I liked best.
It would seem my cachet amongst the elementary crowd has kicked in forty years after the fact.
I recently listened to a radio interview of Wynton Marsalis and was deeply impressed by the character of this man. He has spent a lifetime not just enjoying the success of his talent, but in nurturing the creative interests of young musicians everywhere.
When asked: what do you most hope to be remembered for?, his answer was to this effect: for the feeling I leave with others.
He didn't reference his musical career or any distinguished achievement, no personal accolade. Instead, he mentioned at nearly every one of his performances, he's stayed afterward to visit with people who want an extra minute of his time, the kids who bring their horns and want to play for him. He actually listens to them, offering encouragement and advice. I believe he said he is often one of the last people to leave the concert hall.
He (basically) said: That's what I want to be remembered for. I hope I leave a good feeling with everyone I meet, that my time spent motivating others translates into them going out into the world and making someone else feel good, too.
Dear reader, that is it. That sums up how I hope to be remembered, as well. I don't imagine I will ever hold court in the realm of someone like Mr. Marsalis, but that's hardly the point. It doesn't matter if you affect one or a million.
It has resonated in my mind, ever since I was a little kid on the receiving end of some painfully unkind treatment: what will be my effect on others? How would I like to make someone else feel?
The answer is: good.
I'm a work in progress, to be sure, but that's the approach I strive to cultivate. I take seriously what it means to live on this planet with the rest of humanity. Who are these people? Who are they? Who are all these amazing, wonderful people?
I am convinced of the infinite beauty and worth of each person. I see it, in degrees of apparency, in everyone I meet. For the most part, it's blinding.
I'm not saying I don't fall short or regret my behavior at times, but the love and interest I feel toward others is genuine. Of everything I may accomplish in my lifetime, I hope this is my greatest work.