Beba was my friend and a great man of true kindness and compassion.
There are some people in the world that live their lives from the inside out. What I mean by that is that their points of view begin with themselves and then expand outward. This lends to the idea that their considerations will server the self first, then those nearest second, and then others further third, and so on.
Then there are people in this world that see the world long before they see themselves. They are those diligent parents that save their whole lives for their children. They’re those selfless souls that will and regularly do give the shirt off of their backs for the sake of making others’ lives happier or better. They’re those who sacrifice personal freedoms and privileges, time and energy, for the sake of improving the quality of life of those around them both in big ways and in the smallest gestures.
Beba was the second kind of person and very few people I’ve met have inspired me to respect someone as completely as him. I met him when I was ten years old. His family moved a lot and he was only around for a few years before he moved away. We kept in touch for a time but in my youth and because I was not as thoughtful as he was, I did not maintain our contact as diligently as he had tried to.
I haven’t seen him since but during the brief time we knew each other, we were inseparable. For years to come, he would have a place in my mind nearly daily. His nature was so different that I couldn’t shake the idea that I needed to try to understand it. His selflessness wasn’t just uncommon in a worldly sense, it was completely foreign to me at the time. I had never met someone that was that way before. Perhaps this impression is what made it resonate so clearly to me.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time searching for him in my adult life, but I remember so little about important details about him. I don’t know his last name, or if I’m even spelling his first name correctly. I don’t know where he moved to (and where he’s moved to since). I don’t know anything about him beyond the time I had with him.
Since then, I’ve resigned myself to cherishing the memory I have of him. The lessons he taught me were part of the groundwork foundation that transformed me into who I am now. Now I’m in my thirties and the inseparable friendship I had with another boy for a short time when I was 10-12 years old still has meaning to me.
Another friend I recall at around the same time was a man named David Richardson. He and I were also good friends. He moved away as well, but he had invited me to his birthday party later in the year. His friendship, like Beba’s, was invaluable. He had an intelligence that was obvious right away, a strong and forgiving heart, and a nature to him that seemed to radiate all the energy of a good person. Where as with Beba, my thoughts of him are that he was always thinking of others in a compassion and service capacity. With David, I always regarded him as simply a thoughtful, perhaps introverted, friend who wasn’t absorbed into his own headspace.
I write all of this for a few reasons. First, I miss those two and I hope that I am fortunate enough to some day meet them again and thank them for everything — no doubt they don’t even know the impact they’ve made. Second, because reflecting is a past time of mine and finding lessons, meanings, patterns, and truth in experiences of the past is what I believe we have any recollection of the past all for.
Both Beba and David shared a kind of personality that I define as being the truest piece of humanity in all of us. Often there are those who dismiss their fellow man; they degrade others, wall themselves off, or think selfishly about what they want and nothing more. Imagine if you or I had only ever been exposed to such a person or such a perspective. Imagine if the Davids and Bebas of the world did not teach us the contrast. I shutter to think of the result.
It’s possible that I will never meet Beba or David again. It’s possible that some unfortunate thing has happened to them and one or both of them aren’t with us anymore. I pray that isn’t the case, but my point is that if it were, I may never know. So, with that in mind, all I have of them regardless of their current fate, is their legacy. Even as children, they have left behind something that lasts. The ripples of their actions continue to pulse and glow, even after they stop making them.
Ask yourself what your legacy is going to be. If you have children, are they a part of that? How do you view the casual human being on the street? How do you interact with your Facebook acquaintances? How do you treat that man in the elevator or at the gas station?
These are all small actions, seemingly insignificant. But I am learning more and more that who we are and how we are remembered rely almost exclusively on those small actions. There are likely only about 4 or 5 moments in your life that can be considered definitely life changing. Yet, when people think of you, they will not think of those moments, they will think of the sensation the entire idea of you brings. That sensation is sculpted by how have interacted with you. A person may remember another person as being a great friend, even if they can’t readily give examples of why. A person may remember another person as courageous, even if they don’t recall an instance of them being that way.
This is because our emotions and our memories are intricately linked. How something makes us feel is directly tied to how a memory is stored — and even if it is stored at all.
If you’ve ever seen Inside Out, each memory is a colored ball that is fueled by a particular emotion. Sad memories were blue, happy memories were golden yellow. When your impression and emotional feeling of a person is the foundation of your memory of them as an idea, as a person, and as an influence in your life, then what that person makes you feel most prominently, is their legacy to you.
So bring joy and happiness, selflessness and sacrifice, courage and support, to all those around you. You never know when you’ll be the random person in a person’s life that ends up changing them in the best and most amazing ways.