Two Rules for Life

A great man once said:

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

Do you remember the name of the man who said that? Did you ever know it?

I know I don’t.

But that’s my point – our words and our actions have a life beyond us, long after we’re forgotten.

Our lives are shaped and influenced by so many memorable historical figures. Shakespeare, one of the greatest influences on modern culture was born 450 years ago.

John Lennon, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela will also likely never be forgotten for their impact on the world

Then there are those that only a few people will remember, and their names might not last more than a generation or two. Big Fat Ron from next door, Miss Follett, my first teacher in infants school, my gran.

There are hundreds of historical figures, and if we tried to name all the important ones now we’d be here for quite some time – but there are even more names that have been forgotten.

Millions. Billions. Millions of billions.

Let’s take a look at Eurovision – bear with me, I’m trying to be topical.

Tonight in Denmark there will be a huge gathering of people from right across the world, all of them are there to celebrate music, to celebrate the unity of a continent in (relative) peace. How many of the people there, both in the audience and on stage will become historical figures?

How many of them are the progeny of historical figures – and how many of them aren’t? Without the mass of nameless forgettable people, there might only be a small handful of people assembling in Copenhagen.

It’s ok not to be famous, not to be remembered, because even if you never produce offspring of your own, you will have shaped the future in someway. You will have an impact on the world.

It is your choice if that’s a good impact or a bad one.

Even the smallest of our actions can inspire and influence others. A perceived slight can generate bad feeling, while holding a door open for someone can cause a smile. That bad feeling or the little smile will ripple on and could one day be the thing that starts a war – or stops it.

You might not be remembered, but your actions will.

Be nice.


(Oh, and to all you boys out there in Denmark – have a great time, but pop a condom on it, yeah?)