“Now is really all we have, memories fade and people change as they go through life. You only get to spend today once, and then it’s gone forever.”

Life freaks me out. Mainly because none of us really know anything about it. We are all just organisms existing that could be destroyed at any moment, in any given tragic circumstance.

Life would go on, without most of us leaving any kind of imprint on the world whatsoever. After a very short period of time, there would probably only be tens of people who care that you ever existed, out of the billions of people in the world. Your pets probably won’t care either, providing someone else feeds them on demand. All this despite you being so amazing, what is life!

This week was the 16th anniversary of 9/11, a day I can still remember vividly as a 16 year old schoolboy hearing the news. In 2011, I visited New York for the first time, the site was closed off and the new One World Trade Center tower was half built. In 2015 I returned, with the tower complete and the monuments and museum open. I had the opportunity to truly take in the story, and the sense of pain, that still clouds over the area following that fateful day.

This is rare — to visit somewhere that witnessed such horror and for it to feel like it happened yesterday. There was also a strange feeling that I was involved alongside the victims somehow. Often, life comes and goes, and no evidence remains of the journeys, we as individuals have been on through life and in death.

When a plane crashes at sea, a short time later the water is still again and all the evidence of the tragedy has vanished from view — life on the surface goes on.

You could cruise over the area where Titanic sank and have no idea.

A dilapidated cinema that gets knocked down could have been somewhere many couples fell in love. Maybe some stayed together for 50 years before they died. All the evidence of the great times, has long since left.

An abandoned hospital that hasn’t been entered for decades will have been the scene of thousands of babies beginning their new lives, yet now there is no sign of life at all.

I drive passed a tree near home where a young guy crashed his car and died recently. The tree still displays a red heart with a message, but life goes on as before. I don’t know who he was, neither do most people – probably.

The fields our children play in might have hosted bloody battles in the war, where many soldiers lost their lives, yet there is no evidence. Children don’t care about history, they just want to play today.

I don’t know anything about my great grandparents. It was only a few generations ago, yet most of their memory has gone forever. Maybe my great grandchildren will never know anything about me either and it will be like I never existed. Maybe technology will elongate our legacies, but maybe not.

The amount of great minds and great stories that are now gone forever, is difficult to comprehend. Even today, I find it strange that one day a place can be buzzing with activity, and then the next day it is a ghost town with no reminder of yesterday, or great times past.

On the flip side, scenes of great tragedy can be scenes of great moments. Last week was the ‘We Are Manchester’ concert, the first one held at the arena since the bombing in May. It was an amazing portray of hope and strength, at the site of an inconceivable attack of terror against young lives just four months ago. Then the next day the arena is empty again, with just the mess to indicate anything happened the night before.

Life changes and it moves on, we are all just along for the ride. A ride that we need to make the most of every day. Plan for a great future but live in the present. This week we watched a film called ‘A Dogs Purpose’ as a family, which portrayed the message of this article poignantly in three little words:

Be here now.

Now is really all we have, memories fade and people change as they go through life. You only get to spend today once, and then it’s gone forever. We never know how many tomorrow’s we have, and life could turn on it’s head at any moment.

So I got thinking, what’s the most important thing we can do for each other in the NOW…?

Kindness.

Every day I get frustrated by too many, often minor, irritations. Today I got mad at a driver who nearly hit me on a roundabout, I got angry with the cat for constantly wanting food and I got frustrated by a woman in Tesco who had blocked the whole aisle with her trolley. Stupid people everywhere, why do stupid people still exist in 2017?!

What a sad way to go through my day…

Maybe the driver was distracted because his wife has cancer. Maybe the other cat stole the hungry one’s breakfast! Maybe the little old woman didn’t realise an asshole in such a rush would come racing up behind her.

Ultimately, who am I to judge anyone or anything else in life?

The universe doesn’t give a shit about me or my feelings, it has done fine without me for over 13 billion years!

Random people don’t care either, they are just trying to live their own lives. Why judge these people so negatively and get upset by their existence, rather than trying to understand them? And maybe even, finding a way to help them.

I try to think this way about others all the time, but I’m horrible at it. Sometimes I’ve got so much to do in my day that it clouds my judgement and I forget to do the important things well. Like embracing every second I get with my family, and not bemoaning slow people in the supermarket. But I try and get better every day, because I know that understanding and being kind to others, is the only way to live a truly fulfilled life.

We are creatures of companionship and love. When people are unexpectedly nice to us, it can change our entire day. When my wife tells me she loves me, I feel warm inside. When someone I care about says they’re proud of me, it gives me an unrivalled sense of accomplishment and contentment.

When someone is kind to us, it makes us feel hopeful. When we are kind to others we feel a sense of pride and well-being. Being kind to strangers opens up the possibility of new meaning. You might hear the stories that are so close to being lost forever. You might get a valuable lesson in life. You might get a renewed sense of gratitude

Everyone is smarter than you.

They all know something that you don’t — you can learn from everyone you meet, even if it’s just a story of a love that developed where you stand, 70 years ago…

Talking to old people and hearing their stories is one of my favourite things; it is this that inspired this article. When I do this, I know I could learn something that changes my whole outlook on life. And maybe their story will live long in my memory, for another 40 years after they’ve gone.

Kindness leads to the ability to love, support and protect. Kindness prevents anxiety and stress. Kindness leads to living. Kindness leads to the longevity of your own unique story of life.

Make sure your great grandchildren will know who you are, make a difference. Kill everyone with kindness from this point forward — your family, friends and total strangers. We are all in this together, but we don’t know for how long.

Be here now.

-Matthew Brown

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I look forward to sharing my journey with you and hearing all about yours!

Thank you for some of your time.