Relevance

barn“there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late”
Charles Bukowski.

I saw a documentary recently about Johnny Cash. I love the music of
Cash and, like most fans, assumed his life must have been rich and
full. In 2002, Cash recorded a son written by Trent Reznor titled,
“Hurt.” Reznor was a young man when he wrote the lyrics and the pain
in the song seemed to come mostly from a place of addiction. When
Cash sang the same lyrics, he was 71 years old and the pain in the
song came mostly from regret at how he spent his life. There must
have been good times in Cash’s life too but the regret he voiced
through Reznor’s lyrics really made me think.

I think one of the driving forces in my life is to be relevant. I
have seen so many people refuse to grow and they end up marooned on
an island of their own making. The way you avoid this is to build
bridges. Bridges are built between people through communication, it’s
like one person has the wood and the other has the nails. If you
don’t combine your resources, the bridge will never get built. Maybe
that is why it is so important to have an effect on other people’s
lives. When you effect someone else’s life, you give them wood. When
they influence your life, they give you nails. When you communicate
and share, you build bridges and stay relevant because you are
needed. The tough part is you then have to need other person, which
makes you vulnerable.

I am in my late forties and I am really only beginning to understand
this human dynamic. I am lucky as I think most people don’t really
realize how important this transfer of human energy is to living a
fulfilled life. The unfortunate truth is that most people only
realize this after they are past the age of retirement. At this
point, no one listens to them. We live in a culture where we only
care what is young and trendy and so we don’t often learn from our
elders. If we gave older folks more time and respect, it might make
life better and we would be energetic enough to enjoy the their
enlightenment they might share. I got lucky when Cash
sang “Hurt” for me. Without this experience, I would still await the
realization as I blithely sailed to my own island.

I did not know Gracie Woods except from what I have read. She seems to
have been a person who possessed a relevance most of us will never
acquire. Gracie was so young but was so relevant to so many people. I
don’t
know how she did it however I am touched by the fact.

If you read nothing else then read this paragraph. You don’t become
relevant by kissing babies or shaking hands or getting everyone to
think you’re some great guy. You become relevant by real, sincere
involvement in the lives of other people and allowing them to
positively effect your life. Now is the time when you should learn
this life lesson by whatever means are needed. Don’t wait to learn it
on your own because it may be too late.

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