Is there more at stake to the choices you make than just your future? Could you be living a life that is not of your own making? These were the questions that raced through my mind one very ordinary looking day. It turned out to be a mind-opening day.
I was having breakfast in a restaurant on a recent working trip. The waiter greeted me warmly as I went to serve myself. He then retreated to a corner of the room, taking on the common stance that waiters assume with their hands clasped in front, a towel dangling between them.
As I sat down to eat he came and asked whether I needed some coffee or tea. Not being particularly fond of hot drinks I declined and said the juice would suffice. He noticed that my glass was small and offered to bring a larger glass of juice.
So the morning went on. He would serve me, then go back to the corner and watch. It was as though at every moment he was observing me and asking himself what else he could do to make my breakfast better and my stay more comfortable.
I got drawn in by all this and also started to observe him. He was humble, quiet, almost making an effort not to be noticed as he stood in that corner. His manner seemed to suggest that he was not important at that point, the customers were.
Your past and future – The generations before
As I stared at him standing in that corner I was drawn back in time. I remembered that my own grandfather had worked in a hotel. He was not a waiter and I can’t remember exactly what he did there, but it suddenly dawned on me that he might have been in a similar situation – catering to customers’ needs in the hotel.
Wow, I thought, what a change of roles. I mean, there was my grandfather working in a hotel some decades ago and doing what he could to support his family and make a better life for his children. Now, here I was, two generations later, sitting in a similar hotel and being waited on by someone.
It struck me that my being in the position was a result, one way or another, of the sacrifice, dedication, love and commitment of my grandfather to his wife and his children. It wasn’t just him though, but everyone else that came before me. My grandparents raised up my parents, who raised me. Where would I be had they all not done their part?
Your past and future – turning the tables
I also wondered as I watched the waiter what he was thinking. Was he thinking about staying in a hotel some day and also being waited on by someone? Did he ever dream of being on the other side of the situation? What were his hopes and dreams for the future? I don’t know, but I wanted to tell him that he could have any future he wanted for himself. I wanted to tell him that he could get to the other side. It is more likely, though, that he was thinking about his family and what he could do to provide for them right there and then by working in that hotel.
As for my grandfather, he did turn the tables and move to the other side of the equation. How? Through my parents, through me, and through everyone of my family members that have a better life today because he worked hard. Whatever kind of life we have today, he contributed to it. The success or failure of any one generation is influenced by the success or failure of the preceding generations.
I realised at that moment that we carry the dreams and hopes of the generations before us. What parent does not wish his children to have a better life than he has, no matter how good it is? Would my grandfather not feel a sense of accomplishment to see his own children and grandchildren being able to afford to stay in a hotel and have the finer things in life? Would he not feel a sense of failure to see them suffering and struggling through life two generations after him?
Your past and future – remember the sacrifices made
Remember the sacrifice and dedication shown to you by those that walked before you. Remember everyday as you make your choices in life that you carry their hopes and dreams on your shoulders. They have done what they could to make things better for you and to give you what you need to succeed. Will you make them proud or let them down? Are you building on the foundation they established or are you destroying the hard labour of their hands. Remember the generations past.
Your past and future – passing on the torch
At the same time, I realised that we carry the seed of prosperity for the generations to come after us. What you do and the choices you make will influence the kind of life your children and grandchildren will have. Your life is not really your own. Many others are affected by it.
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