“…For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.“
Have you ever walked through a local cemetery and looked at the headstones of the folks who passed on a century or more ago?
If so, you probably saw at least a few that bore your own last name, especially if the cemetery was located in the community where you and your ancestors were from.
Now, think about this…
How many of those names did you recognize, either from hearing them mentioned in family stories that had been passed down through the generations or from doing some type of genealogy research?
I’ll venture a guess and say probably very few.
What James said in the famous Bible verse I partially quoted above is true… Life on earth really is a vapor.
To put a typical human’s lifetime into perspective, imagine the date is 100 years in the future, from today’s date.
How many people alive 100 years from now will have a first-hand memory of you. My guess is very few, if any.
There will likely be some folks who remember hearing people talk about you, but precious few who actually knew you. And that’s even if you were a young man or woman on that date 100 years prior.
Now, fast-forward another 50 years…
Once 150 years have elapsed your name on your headstone will likely be the only thing the folks living at that time will know about you.
Of course that assumes you’re just a regular person instead of someone famous. But even famous people will only exist 150 years after their passing in the stories that are told about them.
The fact is, very few among us will end up changing the world enough to leave behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.
That’s why it’s important to make your mark today, in numerous small ways that help enhance the lives of the people around you – your contemporaries – your family, your friends and your neighbors.
Unless you turn out to be another Jonas Salk, Abraham Lincoln or Mahatma Ghandi, your life will quickly be forgotten after your passing by those who barely knew you.
What’s more, even your descendants will know you only as a name after a few generations have passed. And a few generations after that, precious few will even know you ever existed.
Always remember that kindness and compassion are powerful forces in a difficult world.
Our earthly lives really are little more than vapors…
After all is said and done, chances are neither you nor I will end up changing the world. But hopefully we can make the world of the people around us a little more pleasant while we’re here.
To finish up, here’s a wonderful short video featuring Maya Angelou sharing a 3-word secret to living your best life. Check it out.
Note: You can watch this video at full screen by clicking the little “square” icon in the lower-right corner of the video after it begins playing.