Make mindful choices.
When travelling through the countryside you sometimes see the stark shape of a dead tree against the skyline. What you’re looking at is a monument, a reminder of what once was. The bare, grey branches indicate the type of tree; how big it grew; how wide a cooling shade it cast.
When I see the remains of what had been a glorious, vibrant tree, I ask myself:
What monument will I leave behind?
Humans and trees have many similarities. Just like a tree, our genetics determine to a large extent our physical dimensions. Like a tree we can be affected by things happening around us that are beyond our control, like storms, drought, fires and war. And, like a tree, we make choices: how deep our roots will go; when we will bear fruit; what we will let go of.
Even as you sit there reading this short article, your genetic wiring is unfolding without you doing anything, the world of politics is ticking away like a time bomb, and environmental factors are shaping up to impact your future. You are a compact bundle of chance, change and choice, hurtling through space on a tiny planet caught up in one of many millions of galaxies.
When viewing yourself like this it would be easy to conclude you are insignificant. You can’t change your genetics, and the physical and social aspects of your environment are more powerful than you are. So, how can you influence the world? How can you decide what monument you’ll leave behind?
Through your choices.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote:
At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.
There are more than three trillion trees in the world, and over 60,000 different species. A plum tree will never turn into a spreading oak. A birch will never weep like a willow. And not all willows weep the same. No two trees form an identical shape. No two trees will leave the same monument behind.
Nor will two humans.
Make Mindful Choices
Although you are insignificant in the grand scheme of all that ever has been, is, or will be, you are undeniably here. And right now you have choices to make: how deep your roots will go; when you will bear fruit; what you will let go of.
Your insignificance doesn’t lessen the importance of your choices. In some ways, the more insignificant you are the more important your choices are, because that’s the only power you have.
Although genetics and environmental issues affect you, it’s your choices that determine what type of person you turn out to be, how big your heart is, and how sheltering your shade.
What monument will you leave behind?
How will you influence the world?
With love, Marlane