What It Takes To Matter


Do you matter? Just you, without the people you love, the resume in your hard drive, the accolades you have framed on your wall, the trophies on your shelf or the selfies in your phone? If you spent your entire life propped on a porch, naked to the world in mind body and soul, would you possess value?

It’s a heavy question and my guess is most of us would argue that basic existence is not enough. That our actions (or inaction) define our value.

The Doing

I’ve never been afraid of death. Never. The fear I favored was that of the “Unaccomplished Life”.  It goes something like this: I came here for a purpose and if I don’t accomplish this Mighty Task my life will be a failure. Basically, it’s a fear that we must discover our life purpose and go about getting it done or our time here is wasted. We don’t fear the gates of hell as much as we fear the life review. Our goal in the end is to have a red checkmark stamped upon our grave as the Angel of Judgment hollers, “Halleluiah human! You did what you came to do.” Our greatest fear is that we have to come back and repeat this same life again until we get ‘er done. Our Hell is reliving the seventh grade, over and over and over again until the Mighty Task is accomplished {shivers}.

I suspect this same fear drives most workaholics. When you have no idea what your Mighty Task is you spend your waking hours in a frantic state of accomplishment. A workaholic’s prayer goes something like this, “God, I know I’m here for a reason but have no idea what it is. If You could get it on my To Do List I promise I will never slack off again.” The typical response to this prayer is silence. So we stay busy and do our best to “make it happen”. The only thing a workaholic knows for sure is that what we accomplish makes us matter.

The Being

If a child is born, takes one breath and dies, did they matter? If a woman spends her life curled up behind a book, never leaving her hermit shell, does she matter? If a CEO builds a fortress of a company and packs the stock holders pockets full of gold but never commits one act of kindness, does she matter? If a man does nothing more than drink himself into a permanent shadow on a city sidewalk, does he matter?

Who sets the bar? Is it different for each us? And when, when, is it enough? How much do we have to do before we feel we matter? I have yet to see a status update or a tweet that read, “Yesterday I finally accomplished enough to matter. I’m officially on downtime for the rest of my life.”

There’s some heavy wisdom out there telling us what matters;

  • In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. ~Buddha
  • Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me. ~Steve Jobs
  • What we really are matters more than what other people think of us. ~Jawaharlal Nehru
  • What matters is what you see. ~Gabourey Sidibe
  • The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters. ~Audrey Hepburn
  • The only thing that matters, at the end of a stay on earth, is how well did we love, what was the quality of our love? ~Richard Bach
  • At the end of our lives we all ask, ‘Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?’ ~Brendon Burchard

There it is, the wisdom that’s been driving many of us into a state of frenzied madness. Did you notice how subjective all of these quotes are? It’s up to us to decide when we matter.

The Mattering

Here’s my own bit of wisdom: if we are conscious, we matter. That’s it. That we exist as a coordinated, highly functional, intricate being is all it takes to qualify. Anything above and beyond that is the drama on our stage, the outtakes, the whipped topping, the bonus material.

Can you imagine such an existence?

You exist, “I matter”.

You are born, “I still matter”.

You live, “Yep, that’s me mattering”.

You die, “Still mattering”.

What a fanatical equalizer, an existence with no lacking, no judgment, no precursors, no Mighty Tasks. A life where surviving seventh grade once is more than enough.

Can you imagine?