To Know Even One Breathed Easier
“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived... this is to have succeeded”.
—Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson
I first came across this quote at twelve-years-old. Something about the simplicity of only having to make a difference in one single life spoke to me. If a simple, everyday act of helping someone
breathe a bit easier makes such a difference, then how much more can we accomplish as writers, parents, artists, employees, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, and neighbors?
Shortly after discovering Emerson’s keys to success, I wrote a poem about my great-Aunt Eula’s home in a holler in the mountains of West Virginia. Aunt Eula was my mother’s favorite aunt. Walking into her simple home, which lacked running water and a television, was like stepping back in time. She wasn’t loved for her delicious apple pies, or her homemade biscuits; it was the warmth in her eyes that drew you in and made you feel as though she’d been waiting right there for you specifically to come visit her. She and the rest of my family loved the poem. It brought tears to my mother’s eyes and I realized that I had brought back fond memories from her childhood. Although I’d always written, it was around that time the light bulb, which sometimes turns on over my head, clicked on and I realized I could touch others through my writing. If I could bring back a good memory, or offer comfort to someone who was grieving, then I’d made a difference. I didn’t have to be a best-selling author; I just had to make ONE life breathe easier. That was it, just one, and I would have succeeded.
It is so easy to get caught up in the New York Shuffle. You want an agent, so you can sell to New York publishers, so you can one day be a big star. It’s very easy to lose sight of the reason you began writing in the first place. For me, it helps to carry Emerson’s poem in my wallet. I also have it framed on my desk. When I feel discouraged or wonder why I spend four hours a day writing, when I could go out and get another job paying much more, I simply read back through the poem and remember why I began writing in the first place. And, if I can change one life, make one person breathe easier, raise my children to be happy and healthy, find my true friends, or even just create a nice little garden patch, then I have accomplished my goal.
Lori Soard has been writing professionally for about
eighteen years. She lives in Kentuckiana with her family, a miniature
dachshund and a tortie rescue shelter cat. She writes articles, designs
websites and publishes novels. Her books are available on Amazon.com. You can
visit her website at www.lorisoard.com