Over the past year, I have known a surprising number of people who have passed away far too young. Some of them were truly young, in their teens and twenties. Others were older, but healthy, vibrant, and active. There were no warnings that their earthly adventures were about to end. No time for goodbyes, thank yous, I love yous, or a hastily drawn treasure map of the coffee cans of money buried in the backyard.
It’s a reminder to live each day fully, and richly. To make a positive impact on others every day. It’s a reminder to tell your friends and loved ones how much they mean to you. You need to chase your dreams now. Find a job you love now. Use your vacation days and your frequent flyer miles. (Or your frequent train rider miles if you don’t fly.)
But just because a life is short doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a long-term impact. Believe me, I know. Check out the following newspaper article that I have kept for decades:
We have received sad news from Lafayette, where farmer Fred Albrecht got hit and killed by lightning during the strong storm on Tuesday evening. This happened while he was standing in the kitchen surrounded by his children; one child, 1–1/2 years old, he was even holding by the hand. The lightning bolt immediately killed the man. Fred Albrecht was almost 30 years old and leaves behind a wife and three children, which are young.
Fred Albrecht, the man in the article above, died when he was in his twenties. He was healthy and full of life and hope. But he was killed, in his home, by a lightning strike. He wasn’t even flying a kite. It was just a freak accident. He never saw it coming.
Yet Fred had an immense impact in his short life. You see, the article above is from 1875. And Fred was my Great, Great Grandfather. One of those 3 very young children he left behind was my Dad’s grandfather, Herman Albrecht. And Fred is the reason my kids know the saying, “Albrechts and lightning don’t mix.’
Fred Albrecht immigrated from Germany to the United States in his twenties and had his children here. If it wasn’t for Fred’s adventurous spirit to cross the Atlantic to a new world for a better life, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be anywhere. And you wouldn’t be reading this story right now. Which means that you were impacted by Fred Albrecht too.
Making An Impact
But you don’t have to have children to have a long-lasting impact. You also have a long-lasting positive impact by the great example you set, and the encouraging words you offer. There are long-lasting impacts of kindness, friendship, and love. You have a long-lasting impact when you teach someone a skill or lesson. You have an impact when work hard and when you model a positive behavior or attitude for others to emulate. And you have a long-lasting impact when enjoy your life. And when you make people laugh. Especially if they spray milk out of their nose. That’s a gift.
Even the longest lives are short. But the impact we have while we are here can last a very long time. So be kind. Be helpful and supportive. Be interesting. Make people think. Set a great example to follow. Work hard. Make people laugh. Have fun with others. Be a friend. Make others feel loved and safe. Pay it forward. Leave a positive mark. It can change the world forever.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.