Stepping Forward

Larry - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on April 3, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that my beliefs are too complex and too numerous to be boiled down to a simple statement.

First, I believe that life is beautiful. I don’t say that to make a political statement on the social issues of the day. Rather it is the belief that, given life’s many ups and despite its many downs, the gift of life is far too beautiful to ignore. In the words of Keb’ Mo’ in the song Life Is Beautiful, “Life is beautiful on a stormy night, somewhere in the world the sun is shining bright”. I also believe in walking through this beautiful life with the one you love.

Next, I believe in footprints – the footprints that we leave behind as we journey through life. These footprints are our legacy, a measure of the imprint that we leave on the world. We can see our footprints in our family, children and grandchildren. We can see them in our career, in the people we have impacted and the products we have made. And we can see them in our community, in the lives we have touched.

Which brings me to my next belief – I believe in moving forward with an occasional look back. While we can learn from the past, our future and all of its opportunities lie on the path in front of us. So why take an occasional look back? I look back to see my footprints and take measure of their imprint.

And so I come to my final belief – the one that might be the most challenging to fulfill. I believe in not doing anything that you would not want to be doing at the moment of your death. The obligations of everyday life make this difficult to achieve. So, it is with trepidation that I accompany my wife to the opera knowing that I wouldn’t want to take my last breath while listening to a soprano singing an aria in a language I don’t understand. However, I take it as an obligation and hope for the best.

The O’odham people have a symbol – the man in the maze. It traces the story of a person’s life. In the center of the maze, as you approach death, you are given one last chance to step back and assess your life. When I reach that point, I don’t want to be sitting at the opera. When I reach that point, I want to look back at my footprints with a sense of satisfaction. When I reach that point, I want to be able to say that my life has indeed been beautiful. And, at that point, having taken my last step back, I will be ready to step forward and accept whatever lies ahead.