“To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one’s self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or 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. ” -Emerson
This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the first quotes that I ever remember having struck a chord with me. You see, early on in life I thought that success was measured by your position in life, your career path, the money you made, and by the material possessions that you owned.
How strange I thought that Emerson didn’t reference any of those markers of success in his quote. And then I read it again and this time I let the words slowly settle in my mind, letting the weight of their meaning weigh on my preconceived notion of what success is. I began to contemplate success as something that is measured differently depending on one’s perspective.
Now, I would like to say that I had a “divine revelation” moment, but I did not. Instead, Emerson’s quote stayed in the back of my mind as I pursued what I thought success meant. However, periodically I would run across Emerson’s quote, whether it was in a college course, on a gift store plaque or inscribed on a coffee mug given to me as a gift from a friend decades ago, which I still have. And each time Emerson’s quote crossed my path I would reconsider his meaning of and perspective on success, and then I would proceed to pursue what I perceived as my goals & measure of success.

You see, I had difficulty relating to such an altruistic perspective of success. How could this be, as none of what Emerson references is readily visible, and let’s be honest, most people like their success in life to be easily seen & acknowledged by others.

It was not until I met my wife that Emerson’s words began to make sense to me. And again, this did not happen right away, but was more like a slow awakening. In hindsight, I look at Emerson’s work and it’s as if he was leading me to her and then asked me to watch, listen and learn from her example.

And so I did, and much of the time not realizing at the moment what I was experiencing and learning. You see, Kate does not seek recognition, and she shies away from being the center of attention. She would much rather go about her work while staying in the background and hoping all the while that no one notices.

Kate is a naturally cheerful person who does laugh often, and exudes love to all her family and friends. And after attending many of her office functions and listening to her on the phone with her peers & supervisors, I can attest to the fact that she has truly won the respect of intelligent people.

And if you ever have the opportunity to see Kate with children, especially with our nieces, nephews and their children, the outpouring of affection towards Kate is undeniable.

To be honest, Kate has few critics that I know of, and what criticism I have heard is usually blunted by their acknowledgment of her good intent and desire to help. Kate has endured betrayal, and yet she does not dwell on it, but instead chooses to focus on humanity’s better traits.

And not only does she appreciate beauty, she sees it first & foremost in most everything, and shares what she sees with others. And she has always found the best in others, and continues to do so even when someone may decide to act otherwise.

I have known a lot of charitable people over the years, but I have never met anyone who can match Kate when it comes to giving of one’s self. She does it without hesitation, fully, and completely.

I hope & pray that Kate still has many years to go in this life, but if God called her home tomorrow she can rest assured in the fact that the world is a little better because of her. And even though we were never blessed with children of our own, she has nursed sick children, and has helped many children over the years to lead happy & healthy lives.

She has served on the Board of a day care center, working to bring quality & affordable child care to working parents. She has worked on numerous charity committees over the years that have helped the homeless, veterans, and so many others that have difficult social conditions. Last, but certainly not least, she donates blood whenever she can.

And ask any of our nieces and nephews about the enthusiasm that she brings to playtime and her laugh. I have had more people tell me how much they love to hear her laugh, and I couldn’t agree more. And I’m sure that I’m probably the only person to have heard her sing with exultation, due to the fact that I walked into the house unexpectedly one day to hear her singing away, and quite beautifully I might add.

So many more than one life has breathed easier because she has lived………so yes, she has become my living & breathing example of success, of Emerson’s above poem. I thank God for helping me to redefine success by my wife’s example, and though I may never live up to the example that she has shown, I do know that she makes me want to be a better man. What Emerson embodied in verse, Kate has brought to life by example. And I thank both of them for being with me during life’s journey.

Thank you for reading, and wishing you much success in your life and your career.