New Year’s Eve; for most of us, the end of one year and beginning of another brings about a time of reflection. We browse through the annals of our past and if we are honest with ourselves, all of us will find that we’ve fallen short of the mark. Perhaps there are broken relationships still in need of repair, debt incurred that we now regret, or maybe the promotion we’d hoped for didn’t manifest; you get the idea. It seems to be our human nature to look past all of the good things we achieve and dwell instead on our shortcomings. Why is that??
If we aren’t careful, it’s quite easy to become bogged down in the “have not’s” instead of focusing on the victories. Frank Capra’s 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart is a classic example of such a man. The main character, George Bailey attempts to take his own life because he loses sight of how much he has really accomplished. Hopefully, if you haven’t seen the movie, by the time you finish this article, you’ll want to!
My parents introduced the film to me when I was very young. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know who George Bailey was. His struggles impacted me so profoundly that I introduced him to my children when they were young, and we still watch it every Christmas season.
I was having one of those, “feeling sorry for myself, do I really matter” kind of moments when my thoughts turned to George Bailey. For a moment, I found myself envious of the rare gift his character receives during the movie. Without spoiling the movie, I can tell you that George endures a number of disappointing set backs during his life; many things do not turn out how he’d planned. However, the plot takes a unique turn when George encounters an angel who shows him what life in his small community would have been like had he never been born.
What the angel reveals to George is truly eye opening: the town he lives in would not even have the same name; his war hero brother who was responsible for saving the lives of an entire ship full of soldiers would have died as a child; his wife would have become an old maid; his childhood boss would have been jailed for manslaughter; and his uncle would have been institutionalized. The list goes on, but I think you get the idea, although George’s life was not exactly what he had intended, it was impactful nonetheless.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, it was just a movie, fantasy not reality. Of course, while that is true on the surface, the message itself is very real. Each of us has a unique purpose, a destiny, a calling if you will. We are not self-contained, what we do affects those around us, even though we can’t see it happening. I believe that if we took the time to really stop and think, each one of us could come up with an example of how we’ve made a difference.
I seriously doubt any person reading this column can truthfully say that his or her life has not had a positive impact on anyone, ever. I suppose however, that it is within the realm of possibility. Should you find yourself in this predicament, there is hope, as long as you have breath, it is still possible to proudly influence someone’s life. It is as simple as putting others before self much like George did. Why not give it a try!?!?
Happy New Year and may 2016 find you thinking, “It Really is a Wonderful Life!”
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller