“You’re going to love London, buddy,” is a sentence that my dad would say to me quite often over the past couple of years. As I share it here today, on Father’s Day, it’s something that still resonates with me. I recite in it my mind in the same way he said it, and even though I am currently typing this in London, England, I’m still going to love it, as if it’s an adventure I haven’t quite lived yet.
Despite it being such a simple sentence, there is much more to it than what meets the eye. Sure, I love London already, and he was 100 percent right about that. But you could tell by the way he said the line that it was meant to stick in my head forever, like London was a metaphor for the world, and he just picked the city I most desperately wanted to travel to. I will want to come back to London again and again, each time sending inspiration to my brain that wishes it were as wise as the future me will hopefully be, yet capable of staying young enough to know that I may actually be doing something meaningful in my life. How can I leave my mark on the world?
Of course, evaluating that is something only history can decide. The history that lives within the walls, streets, and sights of London is worthy of a post of itself. What has transpired in this remarkable country is embedded in the being of the people who live here. I think that Londoners (well, some) do their best to, in a way, showcase everything historic that has happened in the city to visitors.
There’s nothing you can do to avoid it, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to. Immediately after rising above ground at the Westminster tube station, the Elizabeth Tower (now officially named after Queen Elizabeth II), containing Big Ben (the nickname for the clock’s bell), is there to greet you. It’s awe-inspiring and upon first view, it’s sure to take your breath away. As I walked from the tube station across Westminster Bridge to get a better view, I recalled May 10, 1941, where Germans led a bombing raid on London, and damaged two of the clock’s dials. Sections of the roof as well as the House of Commons chamber were also destroyed. While I was unable to find a picture depicting this moment in England’s history, my mind tried to fill in the blanks. Instead of imagining planes and bombs, I was more drawn towards trying to put myself into the mindset of those who actually experienced the event – what the people were feeling, not just the image it created.
How did these people leave their mark on the world? I then thought of Sir Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister and perhaps the most revered person in the history of the country. As a teenager, I don’t doubt that Churchill and I shared a similar point of view on our lives. (Of course, this isn’t to say that I am just like Winston Churchill. I never will be. I could be off-base with this, but there are some parallels.) Churchill was independent as a boy. He lost his father early on in his life. (He was 21 when this happened, I was 19 when the same event happened in my life.) This led him to believe that he needed to leave his mark on the world quickly. He believed that he could do great things; as we later found out, he went above and beyond that.
This relates back to what frequently occupies my thoughts: What will I do to impact the world?
I want to go to bed each night nervous that whatever I may do the next day will impact the world. I want to wake up each day with a clear agenda that includes doing something profound with my life on a global stage. I want the people who will walk this earth in the generations to come to remember what I did with my life. I want people to have the same experience that I had standing in front of Westminster in London, to recall the events that had transpired in the past, and to remember the people who had such an impact on the world, such as Churchill.
Have I set the expectations for myself too high? Perhaps so. But, as cliche as it sounds, you should reach for the stars when setting your goals. Because before one can change the world, they must change a single life. I may not be changing the world while I’m here in London, but I am changing someone’s life – mine.
That is something that I picked up from my dad. I saw, in the final two years of his life, the impact that he made on those who were around him. Thinking historically, it’s unlikely that the impression he made will ever affect people around the globe, but there is no doubt that he intentionally laid the stepping stone for my lofty goals. I witnessed the way that he made an impact on so many lives that how he did it was almost indescribable. I could only hope to form half the amount of relationships he made and kept and nurtured in his life. All the while, he knew that a trip like this would lead me on the path that he helped create for me.
You can bet that I am going to love traveling down that path again and again.