Almost a month ago, a viral article went out about a 75-year-old Texan named Lonnie Dillard. Lonnie wasn’t a celebrity, a politician, or one of these newfangled social media “influencers.” Lonnie was a regular person who lived a very normal life, but his name and his words went viral when he wrote and published his own obituary letter, which was published a few weeks after he penned it and shortly passed away from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
"I suspect very few of you reading this notice knew me personally," he wrote. "You may merely be scanning today's obituary column out of boredom or morbid curiosity, like I used to do, for names or photos of people you know, have known, or known of. And perhaps mumbling a prayer, silently congratulating yourself, that you are not the one — not yet anyway — who has recently passed away."
He continued, "Whatever the reason for your attention, I hope to make your time worthwhile. Instead of cataloging careers and adventures I have had, honors I received, missteps I made or women I loved (I was blessed to have more than my share of each of these) or bemoaning how much my sparkling wit or wisdom will be missed, I thought it better to share a few of the big lessons I learned during my 75 eventful years on Planet Earth."
Dillard's first lesson? "A mother's unwavering love can turn a very ordinary little boy into an extra-ordinary man, if only in his own mind."
"Making and keeping friends, like tending a garden, requires attention and effort," he added. "Yet doing so yields greater returns than anything else you will ever do."
Dillard continued, "As Buddhists say: Be kind; everyone you meet is traveling a difficult journey. There is no substitute for a good deed; but simply helping a stranger laugh or smile can lighten a load, too."
"If your word is no good, chances are very good, you are not either," Dillard pointed out.
"Having money is always better than NOT having money," he added. "But beyond basic needs and a few luxuries, money is not a requirement for happiness. Enough really is enough; greed can hollow out the heart, even topple civilizations."
Dillard later insisted that learning is as important — if not more so — as anything else.
"Time spent learning — anything — is never time wasted," he added.
As we look at our lives and the world around us, we should give thanks for every day we get to wake up in God’s beautiful world. As a scholar of history, I can tell you that there has never been a perfect age in humanity, but those reading this in the United States of America should realize despite all challenges, struggles, and hardships, we have won the cosmic lottery to be alive right here, right now.
If there is one lesson from Lonnie we should remember, it is that life will be filled with good times and bad times, and it is our responsibility to ourselves to try and live life in a way we can look back and say we put more good into the world as a result of the blessings and good fortune around us.
Take some time this week to call a friend or family member you haven’t in a while. Compliment a stranger just to bring a smile to their day. Offer to help someone for nothing in return.
You will never regret doing something nice for others.
Your humble servant,
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Thanks for Sharing , My wife and I enjoy listening to the world according to Ben Stein in the evening and on our travels. Really cannot watch it live, we live in Florida and usually are sleepy by ten
Ben, that was beautiful..... you always amaze me! Thank you!