The most important thing in the world is to be important to someone
Sorry for being absent from my blog of so long. I guess the three month hiatus in Florida over the winter rested my brain as well as my body! I have been pondering this article for several weeks now since the untimely passing of Tom Nikolai! The outpouring of sentiment at the viewing, mass, and reception were a testament to the incredible legacy Tom left us while he was with us for those 56 years. And, we saw in Carol and his children that same strength as they tried to comfort all of us during this most difficult time for them!
When we are faced with the sudden passing of a spouse, parent, child, sibling or a friend we are painfully reminded that we must live every day to its fullest! I have a poster in my exercise room of a Steve Prefontaine quote, the long distance runner in the 60’s, that reminds me of that every morning. “To not give the best of ourselves each day is to sacrifice the gift.” Said another way, “yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today’s a gift”. But, I believe Tom’s death reminded us of something even more important than recognizing how precious life is and never taking it for granted. You see, every single person that attended the viewing, the mass, and the reception, was touched by Tom in some special way! His life was not about duration (he was only with us for 56 years) but rather it was about intensity. Whether it was real estate transaction, a fund raiser at Alter, a family vacation, or just a simple conversation with a friend, Tom gave all of himself! Too often we associate success in life with time and experience. It’s neither, it’s about impact! Tom understood the power he possessed as a human being and he brought hope and promise to every human being he touched!
And so, there is a more powerful lesson that we can all learn from Tom’s passing! Accepting that we all recognize that none of us are getting out of this life alive, how do we want to be remembered? What will they say about us when they share our eulogy? It won’t be about titles or designations, the accumulation of wealth, or the other trappings that are far too often associated with success! If it is it’s a life unfulfilled! Quite the contrary! Our lives will be valued by making a difference in other’s people’s lives! The poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that was visible at the viewing and included in the mass program articulated it so beautifully:
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Tom understood the most important thing in the world is to be important to someone. He appreciated his value as human being and while he left us far too early he taught us an incredibly valuable lesson, “to the whole world you may be one person but one to person you may be the whole world!”