Mark Twain is credited as saying “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you decide why.”
It is clear that people who are drawn to philanthropy have decided their ‘why’ and want to make a difference, to be “doers and givers”. These are people who, instead of complaining and expecting other to fix society’s problems, are prepared to put their hands up to help.
Like Twain, famous Auschwitz prisoner of war survivor Victor Frankl when asked why he believed he survived when so many other around him perished, shared his belief that people need a ‘why’, and that the prisoners who survived were often those able to find meaning in their life, be it purposeful work, love or courage in the face of adversity. Frankl said “Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.”
For some, the ‘why’ may be as simple as to live a good life or to be a good person, like William (surname unknown) whose gravestone still remains in the Goolwa Old Cemetery. The epitaph is a memorial for a tender and affectionate husband and father and a kind, considerate and obliging neighbour, “who was always most pleased when he had it in his power to promote the happiness of those by whom he was surrounded.”
As we know, an epitaph doesn’t usually mention your wealth, status, how your dressed or your job title. It will mention your name, age, your relationship and, if you are fortunate like William, how you made people feel – your lasting impact.
Today is the day to start living the way you want to be remembered.