America’s history is rife with those who’ve left their unique mark on our landscape, from our Founding Fathers to those who settled this land, built the infrastructure for future growth, railroads and highways connecting the East to the West. Churches and schools sprang up and the template for future technology blossomed. The Astors, Carnegies, Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and other capitalist moguls left their indelible mark on our existence. Inventors like Bell, Eastman, Edison, Ford, Goodyear, Morse, Ritty, Whitney and the Wright brothers, made our lives easier and broadened our horizons beyond our own shores. At the same time the federal leviathan grew, leaving its mark on all of us, chiefly by entangling restrictions in our lives, eroding our liberties each day in every way.
Leaving one’s mark is a relative term. For many Americans they view their children as leaving their mark, a heritage to a generation they may not see. Others plan to find their’s by living a “purpose driven” life, following their passion. You’ve likely heard someone comment, “Life’s too short to do something that won’t make you happy.” Many of those in America’s embryonic stage, who labored before us, had fewer career paths than we today. Their purpose-take care of their family and eek out a living. Others were laser focused on making and amassing a fortune. Many for noble causes.
Use a unique God-given talent to distinguish one’s self in such fields as the arts, athletics, civil rights, education, religion, medicine or politics like William Bennett, Dr. Ben Carson, Hank Aaron, Dr. Martin Luther King, Norman Rockwell, or the developer of the polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk, who, when asked who would hold the patent on it, he replied, unselfishly, “Can you patent the Sun?” Unlike patent hog, Dr. Anthony Fauchi.
With advanced medical research and technology, many Americans live a century. To avoid stagnation, find a career you love. Follow your passions and find an organization who aligns with your goals and values. One Arizona lady shattered the century mark while still working at McDonalds. It’s no secret that many people retire and find no purpose, remaining idle until they expire. Retirement shouldn’t be a bunker from life. It can be a spring board to leaving one’s mark once again.
Forbes Magazine writer, Larry Jacobson, wrote a salient piece “The Big Problem New Retirees Run Into.” That celebrated euphoria of not having to go to work quickly evanesces, and the sense of loss is stark. Many retirees now live thirty years after retirement. That’s a long time without purpose. Finding something to “keep busy,” isn’t the same as being fulfilled. It’s not uncommon, according to Jacobson, to hear a retiree opine, “I use to be someone.” His advice; study, learn something new, be curious, and consider retirement as a new start. Love them, or not, social platforms open up a world to those willing to navigate them cautiously, and leaving one’s mark. Ten year old opened a lemonade stand and raised $2000 for a local charity. Age needn’t be a barrier to leaving one’s mark.
Consider the life of Moses. His first forty years was in the King’s palace. Next forty years with his family’s life, and the last forty years he lead the people of Israel out of Egypt’s grasp. He died at 120 with a life that we still talk about two millennia later. With the advancement of medical research and technology, we are living longer and healthier. God hasn’t called us to wear out a Lazy Boy recliner. They make Total Gyms too. One is for our comfort-the other for our affliction. We need both.
As one discovers one’s purpose or calling, find a practical outlet for it. At that time, one need only to decide will one be obedient or not. Was Moses too old? How about Jeremiah who some thought he was too young? He was old enough to understand the call of God. Despite our age, when God’s call is clear, our reply should be, “Lord, here am I.” With the ominous changing landscape of America on the brink of peril, we haven’t the time to debate whether God calls the young or old. Just do it. God will enable you. One’s resume may not be impressive, according to the world’s standards. As with David, God looks on the heart. It’s not one’s stature, IQ, or bank roll. Prince or pauper. Leave your mark now.
Who was Sonya Carson? She passed in 2017, at age 88. She was the mother of the renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. “All I am is because of the love of my mother,” wrote Carson in a tribute on one of his Facebook pages on November 8, as he shared the news of her passing. “She was one of God’s greatest blessings to me, and it was her foresight and discernment that pushed me to my dream.” Born in 1928 in rural Tennessee, dirt poor, she stopped attending school after the third grade before she could learn to read or write. She was married at 13, to Robert Carson, 15 years her senior, and several years later had two sons, Curtis and Benjamin.
She couldn’t read or write. Yet she was instrumental in Ben Carson’s ultimate academic success. Carson wrote about his mom in his tribute, “If anyone had a reason to make excuses it was her, but she refused to be a victim and would not permit us to develop the victim mentality either.” Though illiterate, she devised a plan for her sons to curb TV time, and made them write two book reports a week.
When they turned in the book reports to Sonya, she would make check marks and highlights. “Years later we realized those marks were a ruse,” Ben Carson wrote. She couldn’t read. Regular book reading was the beginning of a fruitful academic career that eventually took him to Yale, and John Hopkins University Hospital, where he worked as director of Neuropediatric Surgery, from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. His name’s world renown. Though illiterate, Sonya’s mark is on the medical world too.
One’s effort may never reach beyond the boundaries of the block upon which one resides. Share the Gospel of Christ-heaven’s still open. Perhaps a pregnant teen, struggling with whether to keep her baby, needs a gentle nudge and understanding. It could be an organization that advances individual Liberty, under God, in Natrona County, and beyond. This organization, Liberty’sPlace4U, was God’s calling in 2020, to this opinion columnist, struggling to find his next post retirement challenge that would leave a mark. One’s mark may eclipse the limelight, or remain in obscurity. That mark, isn’t for one to admire, rather for others to see, and be inspired to do likewise.
Where’s your niche? The unborn need more warriors. We need Wyoming legislators who love virtuous Liberty, more than careerist impulses. Once you know, your fingerprints should be all over it. Ask yourself, “What makes your heart beat faster? What keeps you up at night? What makes your blood boil? For what noble cause are you willing to go to jail?” What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org