The other day I was watching an older movie starring Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep titled “Defending Your Life”. The gist of the plot is that when we die, our lives are put on trial before a pair of judges. We are given a prosecutor and a defender tasked with convincing the judges that we should be allowed to move on into eternal bliss, or if we lose our case, sent back to earth to try it again in another life.
I found the premise enticing as food for thought. As I am fast approaching my retirement date, thankfully not death, I am looking back to see if my life is defensible. I know that I tried to accomplish a life set to the theme of being useful. Now that doesn’t seem very heroic and I must say I have entertained many a heroic fantasy, but it was a goal. I even felt redeemed when the famous Red Green would proclaim that “if you couldn’t be handsome at least be handy.” I think being useful sort of fell into that category.
So was I useful? I think as a bartender, I learned to listen to the story. As a carpenter, I learned to be creative. As a teacher, I felt I put those two practices to good use and found ways to engage my students through stories and creativity. Later, as I moved into my most recent career as a planner, I took what I learned in teaching, the art of breaking a concept down to its core element, and used that notion, alongside listening to their story, to motivate my clients to both define and reach for their goal. I apologize for that last lengthy almost legalese sentence, but all of those concepts belonged together and just couldn’t break out of their common sentence. But to the point, measured against that back drop, I think I was useful.
Will I one day have to face the afterlife jury? Will my life turnout to be defensible? All I know is that heroic or not I think I will pass the test. After all, it is not just my career on which I should be judged a success or a work needing more refinement, but on the lives I have touched or influenced in some way. I have faith that I did a better than fair job of raising two remarkable human beings in my daughters. I wish to believe that I can find an echo of my beliefs in their lives. I am currently working on two grandchildren. I have already had three years with my grandson, and I think he sees some possibilities in my ideas. His sister will be my next project. I hope she will witness my belief that a women should be respected for her beauty while honored for her strength. Pretty sure there’s a truck under the Christmas tree right along with that pretty dress.
If life is the sum of it’s many pieces, I think the accomplishments should outweigh the back steps and even the bad decisions. I am not done yet, but just moving into the next phase. My hope for you the reader, is that you will reflect on your life and answer the question, “is my life defensible?” If you aren’t sure of your answer, then adjust the future.