Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

August 29, 2009

Life’s Resume

From the time, it seems, we are barely in high school, we are coached, advised and prodded to start putting together our resumes.  We are taught to acquire “smart” victories and garner certain strategic awards, rack up hours of community service and put together a comprehensive picture of our best selves in order to make us marketable and fine choices for what we hope will be satisfying and well-paid careers.

In today’s economy, with so many jobs lost and so many people needing to reinvent themselves, the scrambling unemployed and under-employed are retooling their resumes and hurrying to add more attractive fonts and eye-catching phrases that “pop”.  A lifetime’s worth of work needing to fit onto a single page. 

While I was watching coverage of Senator Kennedy’s funeral today, it struck me how full his life’s resume.  Story after story this week and into today of instances and events, gestures and words which so many consider selfless, humorous, generous, thoughtful.  Unforgettable.

I don’t think all of his fit on one page.

Made me wonder how hard we work to pad our life’s resume.  Made me wonder how much we impress upon our young people the importance of filling a life’s resume that will highlight a history of selflessness, humor, generosity, and thoughtfulness.

Senator Kennedy had a huge family.  He was charged with filling the paternal role for fatherless nieces and nephews.  He was a Senator.  A public figure.

A busy guy.

And yet so many have told how he personally called all 171 families of those who died in 9/11.  During the week his nephew JFK, Jr. was missing and then found dead, he called every day to check on one of his staffers who had lost his mom.  Story after story.

He made the time, took the time, prioritized the time to pad his life’s resume.

These are the things that I remember.  These are the things that “pop”.

Is it important to ask, from time to time, what will they say about me when I’m gone?  What am I doing to fill my life’s resume?

Some will laugh and cast aside the notion, stating that they don’t care because they won’t be there to worry about it.  But I think the questions are critical in inspiring us to build a volume of work and deed which is notable for its compassion, valuable to the people we raise and influence, and memorable for it’s grander humanity.

Our time is so fleeting here.  What can we do in this short period of time that will last beyond it?

Is it simply our children?  What, then, are we actually teaching our children?  What are they going to take of our lives, our words, our examples?  What, today, would they write in their eulogies of us?

Maybe most important is to keep close the truth that we do not possess, every one of us, the gift of long life.  Perhaps it is worthwhile to not keep our life’s resumes for that time in the future when we believe there will be fewer crisis, fewer demands on our time, fewer challenges…

Today may be the last day for us to add to our life’s resume.  What is going to pop?

What will our spouses, partners, children, friends, neighbors, colleagues-say about us?  Is it all that we intend?  Is it all that we hope?  Is it already enough?  Right now, are we enough?

Or are you like me, humbly realizing today how much work lies still before me, praying for time.



  1. Well, some days I think…what would I like to have on my tombstone…did I contribute to that today? Ginger

    Comment by Ginger — September 16, 2009 @ 10:08 am | Reply

    • Well, if they ever carve all your contributions and good deeds into your tombstone, they will have to have them lined up one after another, winding around the cemetery like dominos…. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — September 16, 2009 @ 11:19 am | Reply

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