There was a time in my life, quite a number of years ago, when I was still aspiring to be a published author/writer. It was the 1980s and a person I knew assured me that I would never be a writer; that I had no hope; that I should stop wasting my time; that I’d never even get an article published. I could have listened to her, but I had more faith in myself than that.

In 1999 I had my first article published and since then I’ve had thousands of articles published along with, as this entry is written, 25 books. The books cross genres from fiction to non-fiction to self-help and philosophy.

So when Toby Keith’s song, “How Do You Like Me Now?” came up in my YouTube playlist while I was working the other day, I quite happily sang along, thinking about that individual. Not only did I get an article published but here I am, years later, making my primary living as a writer and editor with articles being published weekly and several more books on my “to do” list. I have my own author page on Amazon and, needless to say, there’s no doubt she was wrong.

In that moment of realization though, as I sang along quite happy with myself, I did feel a bit arrogant. The next song that came up reminded me of that. It was “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. It’s a great song and a reminder, if you listen to it from one perspective, of the fact that none of us knows how long we have and we can find out at any minute that we have a finite amount of time left.

Reality is that we ALL have a finite amount of time left and none of us knows how much time that is. It was a sobering moment for me as I realized that while I celebrated having proven someone wrong, taking great pleasure in it, quote happy with myself, I was wasting precious time, not knowing how much I have left.

The lesson I took from the moment was complex.

The first part was, never let someone tell you that you can’t do something. If you’re driven to do it, then don’t let anyone tell you that you are incapable. Don’t let anyone steal your hope or drive. Chase that dream. Form your plan. Work hard. Make it reality.

The second part was, once you’ve accomplished your goal, don’t celebrate having proven someone wrong. Why would you? Why would it matter? The truth is that it feels quite satisfying to prove that your dreams and goals were not unrealistic; that no matter what they thought of you, you were indeed capable, persevered and made your dreams reality.  But unless you care what they think about you NOW, who cares what their outlook was back then? Celebrate your success but it’s childish, no matter how good it feels, to celebrate it with an eye on having proven someone wrong.

Finally, remember that both are temporary. At the end, we all take the same thing into the next realm, whatever it may be. We are born naked and alone and that is exactly what goes with us when we die. I don’t care how fancy the clothing is that you’re buried in, how decorative your coffin is or how big the monument. Nothing is going with you to the next plain of existence. What truly matters is the impact you had on others and how you will be remembered. Keep your mind focused on that and your spirit as clean as you can.

Lesson learned thanks to songs on YouTube. How cool is that?

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