Have You Succeeded?

It’s miserable out tonight. I had originally planned on going to see many of my old hockey teammates, but the weather made me change my plans. One of them called me last night and said that they had a game at 7pm. Since I decided my safety was more important than seeing them I guess I’ll have to wait for another night. It will be good to see the guys. With all of my health issues over the last couple of years I had to step away from hockey.

When I blew my right knee out two summers ago I wasn’t sure what the future had in store. After a lot of physical therapy I was able to get back into action, but I chose to stay away from hockey. I miss it because it gave me such a good workout. I don’t miss the cheap shots which led to some broken ribs on two different occasions. That stuff is okay when you’re younger, but after you get past 40 those aches and pains seem to linger much longer than they used to.

Many of you know that I spent last weekend at the Yankee Sportsman’s Classic in Essex Junction, VT. As with all of the shows I’ve done over the last 20 years, it was nice to see people who share the same passion as me. There’s nothing better than listening to people talk about doing the things they love.

I was also able to experience something that has been missing for awhile. I was surprised at the number of people who purchased my second book because they liked the first one. Many of the faces were easy to remember while some of the others took a few seconds to recognize. Sometimes it might be a unique word someone uses or other times it might be their looks that brings me back in time.

When people share their thoughts about your work it’s an unbelievable feeling. There’s nobody out there who doesn’t want to hear good things about himself. When you hear a lot of compliments it makes your work seem like it was worth the effort. I’m not sure if the people like the way I write or if they just like the story format that I follow in my books. No matter what it is, I’m glad they like it.

Many of us occasionally feel like our lives are insignificant. I have friends who are teachers, coaches, therapists, cops, loggers and lawyers.  Each and every one of them has at times spoken to me about his/her life.

Last weekend I realized that I had made an impact on a lot of people. Some of the people I know well, while others I don’t know at all. That’s the beauty of the whole situation! My writing can touch other people. They can carry it with them and discuss it with their friends and family. My name might come up during a conversation on the phone or at a dinner table. One person might recommend my book to another person. At times,  some people might even wish they could meet the author of the book they’re reading. No matter what the circumstances might be I have touched people far and wide. What an amazing feeling. I feel sad for the people who have done the same but don’t have the ability to realize how their contributions have touched others.

Many times teachers will focus all of their energy on the child that just doesn’t seem to get it. As time goes on they don’t realize how many of the other children they’re helping. All of their energy goes where it shouldn’t. That’s when darkness appears. It tempts them to walk into it rather than embrace the light shining off from the other children. Then, every once in a while that one child who the teacher had all of the trouble with ends up coming back to visit years later. All it takes is the face of the child to finally realize how the teacher’s influence went far deeper than she ever imagined.

Some lawyers have a conscience while many others do not. If you’re around enough of them you can see it on a regular basis. Although they’re fighting for their client they feel bad when the person on the other side gets screwed over. Very rarely do they get to extend their hands to the “opponent” but the few times that they do it can be very rewarding when they realize they were only doing their job. I saw a friend of mine apologize for what he did to a defendant during a divorce proceeding. The defendant extended his hand and said, “That’s okay. I realize that you were just doing your job. I don’t hold anything against you and I don’t pass judgment.”  Amazingly the two of them became friends and shared a few dinners after the proceedings were done. Not only had the lawyer made an impact on his own client he gained the respect of a defendant who later on referred people on a regular basis to his office. In some small way that has to make a person feel pretty good about what he does and how he treats people.

The wonderful thing about everything I’ve written is that we all have the ability to put ourselves in these positions. The sad thing is that many people aren’t motivated enough to do it. You have to be motivated and inspired to go above and beyond what the average person does. You have to find your niche and pursue it. You gently push down on the accelerator and steadily apply pressure until it’s on the floor. As you race forward there’s really nothing that can stop you. There aren’t stop signs or red-lights or cops to chase after you. You are in charge of where you’re going. You’re the driver and it’s up to you how far you drive and how many places your influence will be felt.

I realized over the weekend that the road in front of me is clear. I’ve also realized that many people are now standing beside the road waving to me as I go by. They’re welcoming me to stop and visit. They await me in places I haven’t been and they’re glad to be a part of my journey.

It doesn’t matter what you do. If you can see that your life gives meaning to others then you have succeeded. You have found your place. It’s not important whether you’re an author, a musician, a teacher or a big brother/sister. An appreciative smile from a receiver of your work makes every day better than the last.

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