Friday, October 2, 2009

Life, and Death, Lessons

There are many life lessons one can glean from the Wizard of Oz movie but my all-time favorite is this:
As the Tin Man receives his “heart” from the Wizard, he is told, “Remember my sentimental friend, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Which of course means you need to be a good person—lovable enough to earn the affection and admiration of others.
I think it’s the best legacy we can leave, and is certainly a good path toward world peace. Obviously, if you are not a peaceful person who is kind and thoughtful of others, it does nothing but create bad energy in the world. And we sure don’t need any more of that.

My brother Dennis, who died suddenly last month from a brain aneurysm, was obviously loved by many—based on the turnout and testimonies at his Celebration of Life that took place last Sunday.(More than 100 people attended.)And while that alone did my heart good, I acquired yet another real life lesson while preparing for that occasion.
While collecting photographs and materials for Sunday, Dennis’s fiancé told me about many things he was involved in that I either didn’t know about or had long forgotten. I knew he had 6 Black Belts in Karate, and that he was an avid sailor, and talented musician, but I have learned much more in these past few weeks and I regret not telling him how proud I was of his accomplishments. I am saddened that I failed to pay enough attention to all that he was involved in through his 58 years in this life.
Of course I was his sister, and I could use that as an excuse. After all, it’s natural to take for granted those closest to us, especially a sibling. But the excuse doesn’t make the truth any easier to swallow. . . .

I believe that with every life experience, there is a lesson to be learned, although sometimes it takes us a long time to learn it. So let me share this lesson in hopes that you won’t have to learn it when it’s too late to change things.
It is simply this:
My mother, who was actually quite the conversationalist, often told me, you learn more by listening than talking.
And once again, mother was right. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about others and from others that can really enrich your life, even your career. Rather than focus on what you want to say about yourself, let someone else do the talking, and pay attention.

Next time you’re at a party or any event, remember to ask the person in front of you about their interests, their lives. Then really listen to what they are saying.
Especially at that next family reunion or get-together. You might be surprised by what you learn about who your brother, sister,cousin,is really all about, and how they really feel about things. (Oftentimes lack of communication breeds much misinformation). As you listen, you may even find yourself smiling with pride that you are related to that person.
And that, my friends, feels a whole lot better than assuming what you know about them. You might even feel the desire to tell them how proud you are of them.
Talk about a good day! For both of you! Sure wish I'd done that.
Life lessons can truly be eye-opening--and life enriching.

So live, love, laugh – and listen!
Now go tell a friend.

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