What is left standing?

Our family farm has mostly disappeared. The land still flows, but the homestead signs are almost gone.

When I went to our family farm last year, I snapped this picture. These grain bins are the last reminders that a family worked this land. One of the odd things about them is they were present before my mom and dad bought the farm, and now they remain again. The only reason they are still around is no one really wants them. In today’s world of larger farms, these grain bins don’t store enough. They are a sign of smaller farms, simpler times.

Even though this picture was taken a few months ago, it popped back in my mind as a question:  What will stand after I am gone?

It is that vision thing, but more tangible.

It is an important question to think through and answer, as the response should guide us in our daily life. I think about it, but I honestly don’t have a complete answer today.

  • I think my sons will be what stand after I am gone and what their lives develop into.
  • I think my writing will stand, maybe at least with my family. The real reason I write this blog is for my kids. I hope when they are in their twenties, they will read through these posts and gain something from them, maybe learn a little more about and from me.
  • I think about the relationships I have, but know the memories will slowly fade as the people I know fade away.
  • I think whatever I do between this point in time and the end of my life will stand, although this is somewhat undefined and definitely unknown.

A funny thing is that this is a short list, but let me list the things that will not stand: My work as a marketing professional; my contributions or discussion points in many, many meetings; my hours worked; my home; my car; my clothes; my books read and collected; and my possessions.

The list can continue.

Having a job is important. Having a home is important. It is all part of a revolving door though. I walk through, and someone else takes my place to keep it moving around. What stands the test of a meaningful life?

The simple reality.

The simple reality that focusing on just one area of our life is impossible and impractical. If that happens, there is complete imbalance.

The reality is that we do things that take a stand in three areas:

  • In our work: Words and actions on integrity, honesty, coaching, and inspiring are all things we can do in the place where we work. Most of us need to earn something, and we can do it in an honorable, meaningful way.
  • In our home: Loving, engaging, guiding, and building a family is a worthy, meaningful thing to do. Enabling the people closest to us to be better may be one of the most central things we can do.
  • In our life: Surrounding it all is what we do with our spare time. Giving and inspiring a community can have a longer term impact. More importantly, it affects people, here and now, positively.

The simple point.

The point is rather simple. We need to spend more time thinking about what will really stand after we are gone, and we need to spend more time doing the things that will stand after we are gone. It is about doing things that matter in our work, our home, and our life – balanced and meaningfully.

Maybe it’s just me being guilty of not embracing and doing more of the things that really matter in life. I can accept that, although I know there are others. I just have to pick up a newspaper and read the stories.

The simple point may lead to a simple action, which is carving out and protecting the time we spend doing the things that will stand the test of time.

Is it really that simple?