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My Mission Statement

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

I found out last night that a very dear, very young friend of ours, Sam Kirui, passed away peacefully in his sleep. It came out of nowhere. He hadn’t been sick. He was on a mission trip in Kenya and just went to bed and didn’t wake up.

I had literally just told Ricky one minute earlier (because he said he didn’t feel well because we had eaten pretty poorly all day), “Well, if we get to wake up in the morning, we’ll have a fresh new day and a chance to start over”, before opening Facebook and seeing that Sam had passed.

Ricky has always been really intentional about reminding me that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. That viewpoint has helped guide our decision making so much over the past four years.

It’s why Ricky left his job at Budweiser to go back to school to become a counselor. It’s why we moved to Arkansas, and why – when we realized it was too far from family and Dad was diagnosed with cancer – we moved back.

It’s why Ricky didn’t hesitate when I told him I wanted to do photography/video full-time so I could have more control over my schedule and spend more time with family, doing work I love.

There is a Buddhist practice called the Maranasati Meditation. I don’t know much about it, except that it’s a time set aside to meditate on one’s own death and how it’s a reality that will come at some point. Again, I don’t know the details, but I do like the concept of setting aside time to think about death. I think it helps make people more intentional in life.

I know Dad did a lot of it in the months leading up to his death last year. He knew it was coming, talked to us all about it, and made sure his affairs were in order, to make things as easy on us as possible.

He left us a word document on his computer titled “After I’m Gone”. It had information about his life insurance policies and a little poem. The information was somewhat outdated by the time he passed, but I really liked the concept that he thought to leave a letter for us.

This morning I took some time to write a word document on my computer for “After I’m Gone”. I’m not sick, I have no reason to expect anything will happen anytime soon, but neither did my friend.

If nothing else, I think writing the letter helped me clarify the legacy I want to leave behind, and what I want people to remember about me. I wrote out eight things that I want for my loved ones, and then tried to combine them all into a sort of life mission statement. This is what I came up with:

“If the people I care about can live a life worth remembering, doing work they love, going on adventures with people they care about, and document it well, I’ll be happy.”

I also got some clarity on how my career (photography/video – especially family films) ties into my life mission. One of the eight things I listed that I wanted for my loved ones was “To document life so well that it will ease the transition of change and loss because a piece of the past will live on”. That’s what helped me so much when Dad died. Reading things he had written, listening to old voicemails, and watching home movies made it feel like part of him was still here.

It's why I will always have some type of camera or audio recorder out at any family event, and why it makes me so happy when someone passes away and I have some file somewhere on my hard drives that I can give to the family to help them remember their loved one.

Sorry. I know that was real heavy for a Monday morning, but maybe it can be a reminder, if you haven’t done it recently, to set some time aside this week to think about the legacy you want to leave behind.

Side note: I also finally got around to watching the series finale of “This Is Us” last night, so I’m pretty sure this post is HEAVILY influenced by that as well.

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