This week, most of my former high school classmates are mourning the untimely death of a man who was well-liked and friendly. After achieving great success on the wrestling mat, he went on to become an entrepreneur, to make a living with creative endeavors, and to start a family.
(I ask the family's indulgence if I'm incorrect about any of the above, since I'd not spoken to him in several decades. I ask the same of his friends who are reading this post.)
The Four Pillars remind us that we Exist, Matter, Belong, and Deserve. Apparently we've been taking the First Pillar for granted. As our dearly departed friend has reminded us, this is not a guarantee.
We are never sure when our lifetime will end, and we only assume that tomorrow will arrive. Far too often, we curse our existence for its faults and foibles, never stopping to consider how much worse the alternative oblivion truly is. We grumble and complain about the hand we're dealt, without realizing that the game could end arbitrarily.
So I ask you ... where will you be when the Hour comes?
This is not a question of the afterlife. I am not concerned with Heaven or Hell, Gan-Eden, Gehinom or Sheol. That's between you and your Maker. I'm talking about this life.
Let's say it all ended now. Would you be happy with your final act? Would you be proud of what you used to occupy your last moments? Will your last words be the ones you'd want on your headstone? Will you disappear doing something you loved, or doing something you'd otherwise be ashamed of?
Yes, of course, your surviving relatives will sanitize the account of your death, or simply just say it's a private matter, but you'll still pass knowing the truth. Wouldn't you feel more fulfilled knowing you left this Realm doing something good? Something right? Something that made you happy? Something that told the world that this is who you were, and how you'd want to be remembered?
While you still can, live that way. Don't make your relatives have to defend you or whitewash you. Be respectable. That DOES NOT mean be POPULAR or conform. It means give people a reason to respect who you are and what you do, be they friend or foe.
In other words, to fulfill the First Pillar, don't just be alive, as important as we now know this to be. Be somebody.
I EXIST. I MATTER. I BELONG. I DESERVE.
(no, this does not make the other three redundant. If anything, it makes all four concepts more connected)