Have you ever thought about what the highlights reel of your life would look like? We all have a highlights reel of memorable events and life changing moments.
We like attending University of Wisconsin basketball games, and one of my favorite parts of the game is the basketball highlights reel they play just before the players burst out onto the floor through a sea of smoke and lights. It is a retrospective of the best moments of 119 years of UW basketball.
The highlights reel blasts onto the jumbotron with a lot of noise, color and emotion. You see the best players, the big dunks, and coaches beaming as they cut off pieces of the net. There are shots of jumbled arms holding trophies above their heads, and jumbled bodies hugging and jumping up and down when they realize they have made it to the championship game.
In any life, whether it is the life of a basketball team or the life of a person, there are also moments of challenge and struggle. Sometimes things don’t go our way, when despite our best effort, we are defeated. These moments make it into our personal highlights reel as well, because they are character defining, unforgettable in their impact and importance in our lives.
As I watched the highlights reel at a recent game, I began to think about what my own personal highlights reel would look like. Which are the moments of my life that are so important that they are etched forever into my memory?
Before she died, my mother made each of us a scrapbook. Our books contained pictures of our ancestors followed by the best pictures of ourselves and our families from our birth forwards. There are shots of special birthdays, of us sitting between smiling grandparents, of graduations and weddings. The last pages, added later by my sister, are of my parents’ deaths and the celebrations of their lives. These books are like our own personal highlights reel.
If am to have another book that highlights my life, I realize that I am going to have to make it. I am not good about taking photos, and I am fully aware that I may or may not ever make a physical scrapbook of my life’s highlights.
I also know that whether or not there is a book, there is still a highlights reel. It is like the one on the jumbotron, but rather than on a large screen, it runs through our heads. It, too, is full of unforgettable images. Some of those moments show the rewards of our efforts, the happy family moments and the personal achievements. Other moments, just as large, are our challenges, the moments that bring us to our knees. They are less picturesque, but equally powerful.
Whether or not there are actual photographs, there will always be memories. Those memories define who I am and who I am becoming.
The most amazing part is, though I can’t control everything that will happen to me in the future, I can control many of the events that will show up in my personal highlights reel.
That is both an awesome and a frightening responsibility.
Ask yourself, right now, what kind of things do I want to show in my future highlights reel? It is your responsibility to make those things happen. It is an opportunity, whether you lean into it or let it pass you by.
For example, if I don’t make plans to go to Scotland or France, those trips will never show up in my highlight reel. If I don’t take care of my health, I will miss out on important occasions.
If I don’t go after my dreams and goals, I am not going to achieve the things I have my heart set on. Those things will be missing in my highlights reel, replaced with images of regret and failure.
We all have an opportunity to create our own highlights reel. We can use that idea to empower ourselves to move forward in positive ways.
It is a cliché that in our last moments on earth, our entire lives will flash before our eyes. If that is true, I want the jumbotron highlights reel in my head to be full of amazing moments of a life well lived.
What about you? What do you want to be in the highlights reel of your life and what are you going to do about it?
I’d love to hear about your thoughts.