This particular birthday, though, is somewhat significant in a “ships passing in the night” sort of way. My age matches the year I graduated from the University of Georgia and embarked on a totally unplanned-for and unexpected life…’68.
I woke up this morning and immediately thought of those people whose path I have crossed (or impeded, depending on who you ask!) and their influence on where I am today. I’ve mentioned some in previous blog posts; others you’re meeting for the first time. And this is by no means a comprehensive listing…it would take another 68 years to compile that list!
- I just recently gave a shout-out to Professor Bob Hill Anderson who, during my brief dalliance at Middle Georgia College, jerked me out of my pig-lazy state of mind and re-introduced me to the joys of reading.
- Then there was Professor Ray Register, who I first met during my disastrous encounter with Auburn University (my fault, not theirs) and reconnected with again at the University of Georgia. Ray’s joie de vivre was nothing short of infectious.
- Clinton Parks, my public affairs internship supervisor at the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, has appeared several times over the past few years as someone who showed me how genuine, from-the-heart, caring can make a difference in one’s life and career.
- My late step-father, William Malcolm Towson, set an example for me of how “successful” and “good” do not have to be contradictory terms. “Bill,” as I called him from the git-go, was a truly good, caring father, husband, and role model. I have done my best over the years to live my life as he lived his…placing the well-being of others ahead of everything else.
- “Papa So,” my father-in-law, whose insatiable curiosity and enthusiastic love of life cemented my relationship with a culture and a way of thinking that have influenced my own life and lifestyle.
There are…and will be…others who impact my life in one way or another in the coming years, but these are at the top of my mind on this particular day.
What’s the point of all this, you ask?
Very simply…that I hope with all my heart that these gentlemen…and the countless others who go unnamed today…understood the impact that they have had.
I would not be doing what I’m doing today and would not have done what I did for the earlier part of my career had it not been for their influence and their example. They gave me the courage, the conviction, and the commitment to follow my instincts…and my heart.
The challenge for me and for you, dear reader, is to live our lives in such a way as to help someone else find his or her way in life.
By our actions, both direct and indirect, we can and will influence others.
Are you ready?