“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” These are the words of Jack London, a popular early twentieth century writer of Western adventure novels and short stories.
A song by Lyle Lovett at the Uptown Theatre last night made me think of them. The song was written as Mr. Lovett was reflecting on a Sunday afternoon watching football, that this good life was bought by those Americans in the military who put it all on the line on a daily basis. His song asked, “Lord, am I worth fighting for?”
As another Veterans Day approaches, I think about our servicemen and women as well as all those in law enforcement and public safety who do not have the illusion of imagining that they will be here forever. Only giving their full effort to what needs to be done, easy or hard, walking toward problems instead of running away from them to reach a common goal is worthy of their lives.
Besides feeling gratitude and inspiration, it is good to challenge ourselves on Veterans Day to focus on using our time rather than just prolonging it. Where are the places in our own lives that require us to step forward and do the right thing, though it may cost us dearly or wear us out? For some, this courage is not so much in the doing of something but in the brave being of something—holding on and proudly surviving. How am I using my time, even today, that makes me “worth fighting for”?