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A Sentient Being

“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” ― Oliver Sacks, Gratitude

Thinking about the progress I’ve made in some areas, I’m pleased with the progression but still frustrated with the gap between who I am and who I want to be. This is a natural state, and leads to either positive change through action or the despair of the powerless. I don’t dabble much in despair, but we’ve all been down the well now and then in the course of a lifetime. Climbing back out is easier for some of us than others. We simply accumulate enough evidence of the light to dwell in the darkness for long.

I work to treat every living creature with the respect due a fellow traveller in this place and time. My work is on myself and making my contribution bigger than it’s been to this point. If we each aspired for greater contribution and a deeper engagement with the world, it follows that the world would be a far more exhilarating place to be. For now, we’ve identified gaps that must be filled. It’s a good thing we’re here to do the work. Awareness and the boldness to take initiative are the beginning of all great progress.

I’m simply a sentient being working to understand the place I fill in this world, and the gap that would otherwise exist were I not a part of it. Developing an awareness of what our unique value is, and creating more of that value for more people, is one way to mark an extraordinary life. The gap between a really great life and extraordinary is what I’ll spend the balance of my life trying to fill. Measured as contribution and value, it feels a worthy use of my remaining time. How about you? Where will you spend yours?

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