Friday, May 15, 2009

A Life that Matters

They said he died.

One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons of destruction, awoke to read his own obituary. Of course, it was a mistake. Alfred’s brother had died, and the reporter inadvertently wrote Alfred’s obituary.

For the first time, Alfred Nobel saw himself as the world saw him – “the dynamite king,” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of his life. None of his true intentions surfaced. Nothing was said about his work to break down the barriers that separated persons and ideas. He was, quite simply, a merchant of death, and for that alone would he be remembered.

Alfred read the obituary with horror. He felt that the world must know the true meaning and purpose of his life. He resolved to do this through his last will and testament. The final disposition of his fortune would show the world his life’s ideals. And at that time came into being yearly prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine, literature – and the famous Nobel Peace Prize.

If you were to read your own obituary today, what would it say? Do others know what you stand for, what you believe in and what truly matters to you?

Dr. Philip Humbert asks, “What remarkable, extraordinary and amazing things will you do with this wild and wonderful miracle, your one and only life?” I believe that the question should also be asked this way: “What will you do with this wild and wonderful miracle, your one and only DAY?” For it’s increasingly clear to me that the decisions I make every day, even little decisions, will decide how my life will eventually turn out.

Hopefully, I won’t wake up to read my own obituary. But I have already begun to write it – day by day, moment by moment. And if I live a life that matters today, then my obituary will already be written in the hearts of those who know me.

-- Steve Goodier