This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of bright torch which I have got hold of for the moment. And I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to the future generations.
~ Oscar Wilde
Interestingly enough, for the last 20+ years, I’ve wrongly attributed this amazing quote to the late, great Earl Nightingale, The Dean of Personal Development and author of The Strangest Secret (do any of you remember him and that wonderful gravelly voice of his?).
To come across a piece of paper stashed in one of my file drawers with the full quote (attributed to the proper author), is one of the greatest Mother’s Day gifts I could have given myself. It doesn’t hurt that it’s made even more special by our having paid homage to Oscar Wilde by walking past his home while in Dublin last year.
This particular quote is extra special to me because it came at a time in my life when I was suffering the most. A time where I could no longer hide from the demons and monsters hiding under my bed.
In the late ’80’s, through faulty thinking on my part, we lost a huge amount of money on a bad business deal. The subsequent financial stress put my marriage on rocky shoals. Add to that the fact that I had yet to go through the trauma of healing from [criminal] childhood abuse inflicted upon me by my mentally ill father. On a daily basis I was pitching between great despair and an over-whelming sense of hopelessness. And then, magically, this ‘wrongly’ attributed quote walked into my life.
Earl Nightingale, a survivor of the Japanese bombing of the USS Arizona in 1941. A decorated soldier and the voice of Sky King. A man I never met, and who died in 1989, has come vividly to life in my mind, and heart and soul, on thousands of occasions. I love Mr. Nightingale because, when I was drowning in a dark night, he threw me a life-line and offered me a bright torch to help me find my way. How lucky am I to learn the truth of the matter is that Mr. Nightingale had assistance in the form, of all people, Oscar Wilde? How touched I am that when I reflect on those moments when I felt most helpless and I was looking for help, that Mr. Nightingale, was looking over his shoulder to past generations, in order to help a current generation find true north. Pretty darn lucky. And deeply touched.
I am greatly blessed in this life for the suffering and loss that was mine to endure. Each of us has our own heavy load to carry. I’m now old enough to realize our burdens are designed not to break us but to make us strong. More importantly, I am even more blessed that at an early age I was led to the well of life called self-help and personal development (thank you Mary Kay Ash for setting me on this path). A simple word, a powerful quote, a hero’s hand of kindness at precisely the right moment can help us make the decision to burn as brightly as possible in order that our lives can [hopefully] someday shine in the life of others. Thank God for those who’ve chosen to be the bright lights in our lives.
To my heroes, Mr. Wilde and Mr. Nightingale, thank you for teaching me not to be a feverish little clod and that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
Much Love to All Today.