Farm life has a way of keeping thoughts about life & death at the top of your mind.
This winter was especially cold in Oklahoma and my cattle suffered because of it, especially the young calves.
On a particularly cold morning I found one of my calves laying on the ground near its mother. It wasn’t curled up in a ball like calves normally lay, so I knew something was up.
It was still alive, but just barely. It had gotten too cold and had given up on moving around or even trying to get warm. I picked the calf up, wrapped it in my coat, and began moving its legs for it—trying to get the blood flow going.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. As I held it, the calf stopped breathing. It was a sad moment and reminded me of how fragile life is and how much it rests on a razor’s edge.
Those ideas raw in my mind, I began thinking about peoples’ lives. One moment we’re here, the next we’re gone. And that feels important to me as a reminder to treat each other well and value the interactions we have with the people around us.
Every interaction you have with another person, no matter how small, matters. When you say “Hi!”, or cut them off in traffic, when you give a piece of advice, or stay silent. It all matters because not only will those interactions ripple through your life and the lives of those around you, they are also all potentially final.
Through that filter, what would you want your final interaction with someone else to be like? Would you want it to be angry or hateful? Probably not. Would you want to walk away with either you or the other person feeling jealous, or hurt, or frustrated? Probably not any of those either.
So how would you prefer to impact others? I’m not saying you should walk around moping about the impermanence of life, but I think it’s important to value your interactions with other people and think through what you want the effects to be.
It’s easy to become apathetic, especially when we’re busy. But by occasionally reminding ourselves how fragile life is and focusing on kindness, I think we’ll all be better off.