We have all heard the saying “You can’t take it with you.” The saying is very old, though not as old as the Egyptian pharaohs, who stocked their pyramid burial chambers with lots of goodies for the next world. The pharaohs thought of themselves as gods, so if they wanted to bring some golden cats into the next world then surely that was going to happen.
The recent touring of His Extreme Highness, King Tutankhamun (King Tut to us disrespectful peasants, and Tut to his buddies) showed lots of King Tut’s stuff, but no sign of his re-embodiment in the next world. Most likely he wouldn’t want to be hanging out in museums with cellphone-packing peasants anyway.
King Tut has moved on, but King Tut’s stuff is still available for ogling and historic analysis. In other words, he didn’t take it with him.
While Tut spent his pseudo-powerful lifetime building a pyramid and carefully planning his personal journey beyond this world, our own journeys focus on more local travel, powered largely by good will and moderate prosperity.
When we think about what we can take with us, we are mostly thinking about how much will fit in our luggage or the car.
What we maybe don’t realize, is that even for travel in this life, the most important things we bring with us are within us.
A friend of mine took a business trip into Mexico recently with his colleagues. On a drive between cities they came upon a bridge, on which there were many beggars — destitute and seeming without hope. As they drove across the bridge my friend spotted a pregnant woman, and felt a strong need to help her. Looking into his wallet he saw his last $20 bill, so his companions sifted through the ashtray change and gave that to the woman.
My friend felt the need to help, and did something.
He felt compassion, and took action.
As it turned out, when he checked his wallet later, he had two more $20 bills. It made him sad, realizing that he could have helped more than he did.
But he had sensed the need to help, and had done something. Not nothing, maybe not a lot, but something for someone in need.
The strong, deep urging each of us gets — to help someone — is built into us. It is part of why humans have survived long past the days of the pharaohs, and it will still be part of us when our focus on money is over.
Along life’s highways, each of us can bring something important: a willingness to help others. And since no-one gets a smooth ride through life, each of us can benefit from being helped.
Which skills we have and what resources we have varies from person to person, and from moment to moment. But even the poorest of the poor can be willing to help, and to share a smile.
Studies have shown that the happiest people are not the richest — but regular folks who care about others, and who share in community.
Whether in small ways or big ways, wherever we go, we can be someone who helps others.
Here is a hand, reaching out to help.
Be the hand.