This week I had the privilege of attending a ceremony at the President’s House honoring a distinguished gentleman who I’ve indirectly worked with over the years, Smoky Simon. He’s 97 years young and at the ceremony I finally had the chance to hear his life story. I cannot do his story justice in a few lines, but I can provide a sketch. He and his wife came from South Africa as volunteers to fight in Israel’s War of Independence (1948-1949). He was part of the first group of soldiers that eventually became Israel’s Air Force. After the war, he and his wife stayed on for another year and a half. Then, since they were just young volunteers, they went home to South Africa to start their family and save money for aliyah.
They came to Israel in the 1960s. He built his business and they raised their family (that now includes 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren). He became the president of the World Machal organization (Machal is a Hebrew acronym for “overseas volunteers”) and since 1993 he has been the treasurer of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation. He was not a guy who did things for glory or accolades. He did what he thought was right and just got to work. In his speech, he shared the important parts of his life and only at the very end could you hear his voice shake with emotion as he thanked the president of the State of Israel for honoring him.
This post isn’t actually about Smoky. But his story is important.
As we’re approaching the end of 2017, we might make resolutions to finally get to the gym or meditate more or finish writing that novel or manage money better or … We’re all just trying to be better people.
Then you hear a story like Smoky’s and the questions you ask yourself change:
- Are you living a life based on your principles?
- Are your choices reflective of your best self?
- Are you having fun?
- Does your life have meaning?
- Do you have any regrets?
The key is to live so that your 97-year-old self will look back upon your life and say, “Indeed, it was a life well-lived!”
Happy New Year!
May 2018 be the best year yet!