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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I was doing some reading this past weekend when I ran across a quote from Nelson Mandela that made me stop for a moment and actually jot it down. Mandela once said “There is no passion to be found playing small- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” With the recent losses around me of individuals who have shaped my life, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about passion and what kind of life I am living.

Am I living small? I tend to not say much, except here in this column, keeping my head down, doing my work. I don’t feel the need to have the most toys, to drive the flashiest vehicle, nor spend on things that are soon disposable in life. I think I feel this way mostly because I feel that there has to be something larger out there. A larger force if you will, that really isn’t worried about what you have, and your job title or weather people fear you or your reputation. No there has to be something more; compassion, helpfulness, mentoring, teaching and leaving every place a little better than the way you found it.

When I was younger I studied the cultures of the Native Americans that once roamed this area, and the one thing that struck me was how important tradition and the land were. Traditions were handed down from generation to generation creating a link to the past while at the same time making subsequent generations aware of the lessons they needed for life. The land was important to them, or as they sometimes called it, “Mother earth”, for it provided everything they needed to live. They understood as most farmers do, that without the land, and our care and protection of it, that life cannot long sustain itself.

Oh sure there are those out there who are more successful, who own more, who have titles and fans, but are they really living their life as large as they could be? Are they giving back in the right way? Are they passing down the proper traditions and are they taking the best care of the “land” that they should be? Or is their largeness just a ruse? One that in the end leaves them with a large amount of stuff but very few people who will look back and thank them for the impact they have had. It kind of reminds me of a card I once got in a game of “Would you rather?” which asked if I would rather die wealthy or loved. That answer my friends is a no brainer.

So sure, maybe in some ways I think I live my life small, but maybe living small isn’t necessarily living a life less than the one you are capable of. I think that you take the chances that come your way, not all are going to work out for you, but some will. And in my life I have found that the only times I have truly had success it only comes because of the efforts of others around me, whether that be because of the things they have taught me, or because of the work we have done together. And if you forget that lesson that most of the successes in life come because of a team working together, then you really need to pay attention to the last few lines of this column every week….because we really are in it together.