What Is Most Important
I had a friend who felt that way. I sat next to Hal's "death-bed" and thought about the fact that I had known him for over twenty years. Hal knew he was dying and that these next few days would be his last. I held his hand.
We spent time reminiscing about his long and fruitful career as a church pastor. We talked about old friends. We chatted about his family. And I listened as he offered a piece of sage wisdom to someone he believed represented a "younger generation."
Hal seemed to carefully consider what he was about to say next. Then he squeezed my hand, gazed intently into my eyes and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, "Nothing is more important than relationships."
I knew that this utterance somehow mattered a great deal to him. He seemed to consider a lifetime of experiences - personal, professional, spiritual and family - and this one simple observation surfaced above the rest: "Nothing is more important than relationships."
"Don't get too caught up in your career," he said. "And don't use people just to get what you want, then throw them away. No project, no program, no task - NOTHING - is more important than your friends and family." I never knew Hal that well, but I wondered if he were talking as much to himself as to me.
Remember," he repeated, "that in the end, only your relationships will matter. Tend them well."
Writer Og Mandino put it this way: "Beginning today," he said, "treat everyone you meet as if he or she were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again."
At the end of a long life, my friend Hal would have agreed.