This is True’s Honorary Unsubscribe has long been a reader favorite. Sometimes it’s hard to not compare yourself to them.
Doug in Ontario, Canada, who has been a Premium subscriber for a dozen years, writes: “I’ve found I enjoy reading the Honorary Unsubscribe. I find them humbling when the deceased has achieved so much. The question I ask myself is, ‘What have I done with my life?’ I’m almost 70, so my days are getting fewer, but I wish I’d considered that question as a younger man. Perhaps teachers would bring the HUs into their classrooms and encourage their students to make lasting achievements. A worthwhile goal, I think.”
Yes, the best time to start was 50 years ago. The next best time is now. After all, 70 is the new 50 — on average our life expectancies are 20 years longer than when we were kids. Saying “Oh well” is giving up: you have plenty of time, especially since having a purpose improves lifespan. Plus, I’m guessing you’ve done some interesting things already. You’ve set your goal, so work toward it instead of playing games, watching TV, or wherever else you waste time. Making progress beats making none.
People in the Honorary Unsubscribe didn’t go from “stupid kid” to “great” overnight: all of them learned by trial and error, and trying again. They used mentors and books and research and collaboration to make things happen. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach your goal immediately. Pretty much, no one does.
Seth in Oregon
Seth offered a worthy reply too: “While there was certainly nothing wrong about your response to Doug, I don’t feel one needs to have newsworthy accomplishments to have a life well led. Thinking that is the bar one has to clear will lead to disappointment for the vast majority of people. I ask myself two questions: 1. Did you strive to make a positive impact on those around you? 2. Did you strive to always behave in an honorable fashion? If the answers are yes, then I would say mission accomplished.”
Indeed so. I’m sure some, maybe even most, did things they later decided were not up to their own bar of conduct, even “dishonorable” — we’re all human, after all — and then strove to conduct themselves in a way to make up for that. And perhaps that is what made them worthy of the honor they received later.
Rob in North Carolina
“I’m all for notable accomplishments, but I’d like to add to Seth-in-Oregon’s input: I’m good at what I do, and I like knowing that I add value to the lives of my family and friends and to the work of my employers. But the most important thing I could have added to the world is my children.
“I’m proud of my children, of their character, and of the children they in turn are raising. One of my several sons would put it more strongly: Couples who haven’t yet had children are barely human, he sometimes says, just taking up space. We are not denigrating those who can’t for various reasons, of course. But raising children is what creates adults, in many important ways.
“This argument is often trotted out in defense of women who choose to raise a family rather than rise to the top of corporate America. But it’s just as true about fathers.”
Indeed so. The bottom line: there is no one best answer: there are a lot of paths to making a positive mark on the world. It just takes a little thought.
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