By John E. Trombley
The Village Business Institute
Recently someone posted a picture of a real estate agent’s vehicle parked at the entrance to a cemetery and asked what the Realtor was trying to sell there. While it seemed to me to be a poor attempt at humor on this person’s part, other readers contributed their own comments and brands of wisdom to the post further trivializing and marginalizing the reason for the agent’s visit to the cemetery. All joking aside, I felt compelled to add my own thoughts to the stream, writing that cemeteries are, in fact, the most valuable pieces of real estate the world over. Buried within them are countless numbers of unfulfilled dreams, unwritten books, ideas and inventions that never saw the light of day, cures to diseases, love letters never written, songs never sung, forgiveness neither offered nor received, and lives whose potential was never realized.
In the past two months, one close friend, one relative, one acquaintance and two other well-seasoned life veterans whom I have looked up to for 25 or more years, have died. In each of those five cases, we have celebrated their lives and contributions to the lives of friends and families as well as those in the communities around them.
In each case I’ve pondered what their impact has been on me. I have found each one to be uniquely inspirational, and have to ask myself what impact I have had. What I will be remembered for? What do I want to be remembered for?
With what I believe to be another 20 “good” years ahead of me, I still find myself asking what I am going to do when I grow up. This might seem to be an unnecessary or inappropriate question for someone in their mid-60s to ask, but it reminds me that I still have something to accomplish and something to contribute. I can’t imagine sitting around my living room doing nothing when I stop coming to work every day. I can’t imagine retiring to a string of days relegated to a dull routine of self-indulgence.
The reason the Dead Sea is dead is nothing new and fresh flows through it. Without an outward flow, stagnation sets in and along with it comes a death of the soul and body alike; a wasting away, in a sense, that eventually leads to being planted in a very expensive plot of ground to which a few surviving friends and relatives may come to visit on occasion until they, too, take up residence there.
I say “pooh” to that! I know I’ll be going there some day myself, and maybe sooner than expected, but I have no desire to contribute to the untapped wealth of that hallowed ground. I want to go completely empty, having left nothing on the table undone, unspoken, ungiven, unlived, or unrealized.
I believe it’s a worthy and noble goal. I also know that I may not fully attain it, but then again, as I look at the life of my close friend whose death was sudden and unexpected just under two months ago, I see that it is possible. And if he could live that kind of life, so can I. And if I can do it, so can you. Yet the real question isn’t can we, but rather will we?
Life is a journey, my friend. Don’t stop running the race to pull up short of the finish line with the plan of just coasting through until the end. Run through the finish line and leave nothing on the table.
John Trombley is The Village Business Institute’s Consulting & Training Manager and also serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 18 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.