“Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, it leaves an awful hole, doesn’t it? You really have had a wonderful life!” – From “It’s a Wonderful Life”
This movie has so much meaning to me for more than the inspirational messages that it communicates. It was a movie I grew up watching every time it was on, usually at the invitation of my Mother, and we generally watched it with just the two of us. If my siblings were nearby, I seriously don’t recall them being present while Mom and I were immersed in “George Bailey’s” self-discovery of the importance of his life. I was watching this on Christmas Eve upstairs by myself while Deb and the boys were sick downstairs and I was able to withdraw into a division of time that hales among the shadows of my memories.
It’s weird how somewhat trivial and infrequent memories pop up in our heads if given enough time to think, and under the proper conditions. It just reminded me of a time I was watching the film one late night with my Mom in the living room with the window open. Of course the ending drew from me tears as it generally does and in looking back, there were very few times I would cry in front of my Mom without a sense of embarrassment or regret. The ending with his brother’s toast, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town” gets me every time and Mom knew she could sink my machismo with that part. Anyways, the combination of The cold weather and the tears from “George Bailey’s” rediscovery led to one of the worst colds I ever had and for some odd reason, I still cherish that memory with my Mom and have little recollection of how crappy I felt afterwards.
So back to what I’ve taken and still take from that movie. I guess it’s inevitable at some point that we fall into “self-pity parties” where the following phrases enter our mind and sometimes emerge from our lips: “it’s all my fault”, “I can’t do anything right”, “maybe it’d be better if I wasn’t around”, “no one cares about me”, or the quintessential “maybe it would have been better if I was never born”! At our most ridiculous times, we are such foolish mortals!
I see too often that we become obsessed with the requirement of “grand” gestures or “great” accomplishments to measure the benefits we have to offer. I guess they have a more dramatic and theatrical impact so they are easier to assign value to but hears something to think about. By virtue of the adjectives of “grand”, “great”, or any synonyms we apply to certain contributions by ourselves, we have to accept that by virtue of their literal meaning that these are not frequent occurances. If so, then maybe we should consider whether we are over-applying those adjectives to that which is only ordinary.
So here’s what I’ve kind of realized. We do so many simple, routine, mechanical, and almost robotic acts for family, friends, and acquaintances on a daily basis that we fail to realize one important thing. If we had the time to add them up, or a “Guardian Angel” to point them out, we’d have a better understanding of how “great” we have been and the “wonderful life” we’ve had and given to others.
Maybe we confuse recognition with contribution, with the former something tangible to fuel our egos and steady our insecurities. I get it! We all wish for validation of our efforts but I can’t see falling into despair over a lack of requisite acknowledgement when our own common sense tells us that we’ve made a difference. If not, by virtue of this communication, I’m reminding you that YOU MATTER SO MUCH TO ME!
I know I can give my wife and sons “things” but I want to continue to give them “great simple things” of lasting value on a frequent basis. My memory described above with my Mother cost me a few coughs and a sore throat but it didn’t cost a penny to carry it with me to this day along with so many others, which is good since this was my 20th Christmas without her.
So to my boys especially: I may act crazy but I’m betting there will be a lot of good stories you’ll remember that you’ll tell your kids, without much embellishment, about my craziness when I’m older or have exited this stage. If only isolated to all things “baseball related”, you would never find yourself shortchanged in our shared category of memorable events.
And for Deb, she is majestic and magnificent for the seemingly mundane contributions that result in her offerings to her family, friends, acquaintances, and mere strangers. Still she senses failure when the inconsequential is forgotten or short of expectations. Just the pursuit of “perfection” versus results that are “perfect”.
I want to point out one integral thing for Deb, my friend Dee Dee, my cousin Marcy, and so many others who are important to me who may sometimes feel like their efforts are under appreciated. What you see as obligations and responsibilities are actually priceless gifts to their recipients that may sometimes be lost among the chaos or monotony of our everyday lives. The gratitude that is owed or deserved is too often under-verbalized adequately, but the product of your efforts and sacrifices speak volumes. Although we often only see a gigantic skyscraper as it rises into the stratosphere, you have been part of the masonry, mortar, and the bricks, that are the foundation, centerpieces, or important segments of so many majestic structures. It’s just that they sometimes get overshadowed among the vast expansion of the growing construction but without you, there is little chance it will stand. Just know that what you bestow on so many are impossible to measure so in essence, they are infinite in effect, growth, and value, and their impact will endure through generations in some manner, shape, or form.
My goal is to just try to make a difference with others whether recognized or I am rewarded for it. The most simple things have so many results outside of our presence and beyond our imagination but given the chance that they will matter, why hesitate? It’s like Mother Teresa said, “we shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do,” and it takes such little work.
But in the end if you just don’t understand how important you have been or can be to others, remember these words. “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” He knows and I’m fairly certain that our lives have truly been more wonderful than we are adequately capable of understanding but I just wanted to point it out for you. God bless!