Much has already been said about the life and death of Queen Elizabeth II. But I want to talk about what it means to live a life of consequence.
It is exceedingly rare to live as long and have as much global influence as Queen Elizabeth. Yet, this is the benchmark many of us hold ourselves to. Writers often lament online their frustration at not getting their books picked up by a major publisher, and they wonder if they should give up on writing. We often equate wealth and fame with value to society. But we forget the wealthy people whose greed caused destruction of economies and those who became famous for committing horrendous crimes.
Or we consider perfection to be the measure of a person’s value. People are either good guys or bad guys with nothing in between. While we don’t wish to speak ill of the dead, Queen Elizabeth’s death opened a difficult discussion about England’s horrible legacy of colonialism. People have also scrutinized the messy history of the Windsor family, especially when we just marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.
But a life of consequence doesn’t depend on being rich, famous, or perfect. We can create a life of consequence as the person we are right now. Consequence doesn’t come from grand gestures and bold achievements. It comes from small things. Smiles. Words of encouragement. Being an attentive, non-judgemental ear when someone needs to be heard. I also recognize that I don’t have to be a famous author to make a difference with my writing. If my words inspire just one person, I succeeded as an author.
Yes, we will make mistakes. We will unwittingly hurt people. We will not always be our best selves. Part of living a life of consequence is recognizing where we fell short, make things right with those we’ve hurt, and do better.
All of us are capable of living lives of consequence. All of us are capable of making a difference in someone else’s life. While we will never live as long or have as big of an impact as Queen Elizabeth, all of us can make at least some small contribution to make the world better.