Some preliminary stuff before I get to the meaty stuff. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life last night. Anyway, Henry identifies most with Potter! How sad! Well, not really, but his favorite line is uttered by Potter. Again, sad.
Way too many people are coming across my page by doing web searches for naked men. If you are one of those people, what the heck is wrong with you? That is just absolutely disgusting. Uck.
I have a new love – Starbucks’ Caramel Apple Cider. Yum yum yum. It’s really a wonderful drink, and I highly recommend it.
For the briefest time, Jeremy Kwan was a peruser of jack.html. Come back, Jer! Join us!
OK, on to the show. This entry is an answer to John’s question on his home page.
What do I want to be remembered for?
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
I think your questions are a good idea, John, and I’ll do my best to play along. This entry will be like a combination answer to that and I suppose a life influence. Well, I guess it’s not really a life influence, but whatever. A way I think about life.
I honestly believe I am one of the least ambitious people I know. Like, a lot of my friends are honestly and deeply ambitious. One of them wants to be a surgeon. One friend wanted to be the secretary general of the U.N. someday; he actually had a plan for achieving it. Henry wants to retire by 30. Not that any of these ambitions are at all bad, it’s just ambitious. A lot of people just dream of doing great things.
I don’t think I’ve ever been like that. I’ve never dreamed of being president, or someone famous, or an actor, or anything like that at all. In fact, I have a pathological lack of either ambition or vision, which is bad.
For example, some people, you know, they have ambitions of going to Harvard Med School, or being an I-banker for a top firm or what have you. Or like forming the next groundbreaking earth shattering tech startup. And you know, all these things take preparation, so they study hard, find out what they need to do to get where they want and do it.
Not only do I not have ambition, but I don’t even have vision – I have rarely in my life been able to plan for the next stage of my life. I never even know what’s going on. It’s one thing to not plan the next 10 years of your life, but it’s another thing entirely to not know what you’re doing in a matter of months. But that’s me. Especially now, I have no idea what the heck I’m doing. I kind of let more grad school just slip by because I was lost about what I needed to do, and quite frankly, a little apathetic about it. As I am with finding a job next year.
If I were a little more ambitious or had some dream of doing great things or whatever, I think it would be a lot easier, but I’m not and I don’t, and I’m just not that way. I do fine, but I’m only capable of thinking about what I’m doing now, and doing that somewhat well. I do what I do well, but I can’t think beyond it.
So anyways, one weird thing about me, I think, is that I really don’t have that much ambition to do great things.
And I wonder why that is. My dad gave a sermon about how everyone wants to do great things and be great, but I don’t know. I do to a certain extent, but not fully.
Anyway, I think there are some influences on my life that caused me to be this way. So here we get to the life influences part. These all kind of influenced me at different times repeatedly, so I can’t really say which one influenced me first, but here they are.
So my 3rd favorite movie, one I must watch at least once a year, is It’s A Wonderful Life. Let me explain one more thing about me – all of my most favorite movies I need to watch repeatedly because it reminds me of how I need to be. I love these movies because they teach me truths about character, and encourage me to be better. So like Shawshank to me is all about hope and perseverance against all reason. To me, this is the Christian walk. I need to watch Shawshank every so often because it reminds me, there is a hope beyond all reason that we need to have, a hope that only we know that runs counter to the world we exist in, that will be rewarded. It reminds me that perseverance and hope will not be held in vain, and that it’s this hope that can change people around us.
Anyway, It’s a Wonderful Life is the same way. I’m a cheeseball, but I totally love this movie – there are just so many great parts to it. Anyway, George Bailey is just a great character – he’s full of ambition. He wants to go to college, see the world, do great things. But every time he can, he does the good and decent thing and gives it up. He gives up college the first time for the savings and loan. He gives up college the second chance for his brother. He gives up his honeymoon for the savings and loan again. It’s great – he’s so ambitious, but he always ends up doing the honorable thing.
And the great thing is, it kills him. It’s not easy for him, and it ends up making him incredibly frustrated and bitter. It’s just so real. And the thing is, he gives all thse things up for things that seem so trivial, so mundane, like the little savings and loan or whatever. Meanwhile, his friends, like Sam and his brother go off and do great things. And he’s stuck by his decency where he makes no difference. His ambitions are always thwarted. Every time he has to make that choice, it kills him, and he hates it, but when he has to decide, he always does the right and honorable thing.
And of course we know the story and what happens at the end. “No man is a failure who has friends.” He thought he was poor and had done nothing in life while all his friends had done big things, but it turns out in all the little modest things that he did, he changed the lives of countless people.
I love what his brother says at the end: “A toast, to my big brother George, the richest man in town.” He didn’t have the most money. He wasn’t famous. But he was good and decent and had been good and decent to everyone he knew, and as it turns out, it was this modest decency that made all the difference. And he (and I) realized, he was no failure at all.
I really love this movie. And like I said, I always take it as a reminder. At least for me, it reminds me that personal ambition is a bad thing – it can frustrate and depress. But beyond that, it’s just not the most important thing. The things that will truly make a difference won’t be in the big public things you achieve, but in the good, decent, simple and modest ways you treat the people around you.
I also believe that it’s these things, the little, decent things, that will bring the most reward in heaven. The stuff that not everyone sees, that maybe seem really small – these are the things that really show your faithfulness, and I think it’s these things that please God the most. I can’t back that up, it’s just what I think.
The movie basically reminds me to love my neighbor. Be good to them. And don’t worry about doing great things. Just love the people around you and you’ll be making more of a difference than you know. As you know, I’m terrible at loving people. Which is why I need the reminder so much. I’m working on it, though, and that’s what the movie means to me. A reminder that greatness is found in being simple good and decent.
So the movie really affects me. As do 2 other things – the verse above, which I really like, and which I have really held dear, and the Michael W. Smith song Kentucky Rose. When this song first came out, it killed me. It was great. And I don’t think people can understand why I like it so much. It’s just the message of the song is who I want to be.
Anyway, I’m rambling, but the main point is this – like the verse and song say, I just want to lead a simple life. I don’t need to be rich, famous, or “successful;” I want to do my little thing, be faithful with that, and just be good and decent. And I believe that this kind of life does influence people in a positive way.
Anyway, John’s question is what I want to be remembered for. I don’t necessarily want to be remembered for doing any great things, by this world’s standards. I mean, if I do, fine, but that’s not what I really want. What I want is to be remembered as being a simple man, who was faithful, good and decent, who helped the people around him when he could, and in his little way, made a difference to the people who knew him. That’s really all I want – it’s not much, but if I could be like that, I think it would be great.
Here’s the lyrics to Kentucky Rose, written by Wayne Kirkpatrick, that I love so much:
Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michael W. Smith
Sun comes up – Sunday morn
On the little church where I been since I was born
And there he stood – a hearty smile
You could hear his voice ringing out for a country mile
And he could place your mind at ease
With his tenderness and a heart
That aimed to please
A pauper’s hands – a farmer’s clothes
Just a preacher man we called Kentucky Rose
He worked the soul like he worked the land
He spoke in ways that anyone could understand
Simple words of simple faith
And when it came to love
He would go out of his way
A helping hand
A soothing chat
And he practiced what he preached – imagine that
And as far as kindness goes
There was none compared to old Kentucky Rose
Evening stroll ‘cross Shyler’s bridge
That’s when he saw the boy
Trapped below that rocky ridge
he knew the danger he would face
But it’s as if he saved the child
Only to take his place
For on that ridge of stone and ice
Kentucky met his maker in a sacrifice
Why he’s gone
God only knows
Maybe for the company of his Kentucky Rose
So peaceful in his Sunday best
He was buried on a hill and laid to rest
When people heard they came in droves
To say their last goodbyes to sweet Kentucky Rose
Now, on that hill
One flower grows
They say it’s the spirit of Kentucky Rose…