“If your experiences would benefit anybody, give them to someone.”
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It’s the reason I write this blog, the reason I reach out to people in need, and the reason why I continue to show my children that life has many blessings.
It’s a simple fact that the world as we know it would not exist without those who give their experiences to others. We all do this to some degree of course, but then there are those who go above and beyond to make a difference. When I hear the word “experience” these days, I often think of what Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture says about it:
“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
These kinds of experiences don’t come from a classroom or a job – these experiences, as in Randy Pauch’s circumstances, comes from being dealt a hand that wasn’t in the plans. Think about it. This unassuming, very normal, every day college professor could have quietly dealt with his diagnosis in private, finished out his semester at school and gone home – but he didn’t. Instead he chose to give us his experience in such a meaningful and beautiful way that helped so many others who were struggling. And what’s even more special is that his message continues to live on after his death. Randy’s experience benefits so many, and I for one, am thankful that he gave it to me.
There are times when I struggle with sharing my own experience. It’s not always easy to talk about and there are some days I’m just not in the mood. After all, my experience started just 7 weeks of being married to my husband. He suffered a seizure and battled brain cancer for the remainder of his life. Neither one of us “signed up” for that “experience” that’s for sure! We didn’t get what we wanted but we had to make our lives work any way we could. It’s been 2 ½ years since he died and I could easily fade away from sharing my story. I could quietly back down and settle into my new life rather peacefully; but I don’t and I won’t because I know that giving my experience to others benefits them and I also recognize and appreciate all who have given their experiences to me.
We all know what it’s like to have these experiences – that is what brings us together. Some of our experiences happened suddenly, some over time, some expected and some came out of nowhere. The bottom line is that whatever the scenario, we are changed forever. I think about Jamie and Karen Moyer’s experience and how they could have grieved the loss of their dear friend Erin quietly. They could have helped to give support to Erin’s parents and siblings and gone home. The difference is that they realized that when Erin gave her experience to them, it benefitted their lives, and now it benefits countless families across the country.
Of course we all can’t do things on such a large scale and that’s not my point. My point is that giving others our experiences whether large or small, makes a difference in people’s lives. Just this past week I learned that a local mother of 5 died suddenly at the age of 45. She was a healthy woman who took care of herself and her family. She was a great mom and role model to her 4 girls and 1 boy. Her husband and children will bury her tomorrow and try to move forward as best they can without her. Although my experience is different, I can still share it by offering support, giving them valuable resources and assuring them they are not alone.
I do this because of people like Florence Nightingale, Randy Pausch and Jamie and Karen Moyer. They have shown me and given me the confidence to know that, in Randy Pausch’s words, my experience, “…is the most valuable thing you have to offer.”