It’s very unlikely that you got to where you are now by being completely abandoned, raised by wolves, and fended for yourself at the age of a week old. Someone helped you to grow, fed you, protected you, and showed you how to get by in the world. You are made of all their contributions. Their gifts to you, large or small, live on in you.

The teacher who inspired you. The childhood friend who picked you up when you fell. The occasional stranger with a kind word or smile when you needed it. Nurses and doctors, paid to care but often giving more than they’re expected. Your parents and close family, depending on your family of course.

People who loved you and cared about you. People who put life into you, wanted good things for you, whether they knew you or not. In a way, you’re made of them. Parts of who they are become part of who you are. Some of these lessons you learn unconsciously, and some you choose to learn. Maybe their love for nature rubs off on you. Or you notice how they treat other people and you decide that you want to be that way too.

Maybe some of these people have passed through your life and are no longer with you. But when you can see in yourself some of the things they stood for and taught you, then part of them lives through you. I know that I am who I am because of the influence of people who have had an impact on my life. I’m like a weaving together of all these different and complicated and amazing people, some of whom I know almost nothing about. For example, a chance conversation with a stranger can shift your perspective on something that changes how you live your life in a particular area. You have part of that person in you now.

Just as I am still alive because of the food I’ve eaten, I’m still going because of the sum total of all the love and help that I’ve been given from other people in the world. Which makes you think, doesn’t it? Where does that come from? People giving love and friendship to other people. You, giving and helping people in big and little ways. Those same people passing on what they learned from you, and vice versa. You, taking that passion for life that you learned from your uncle, or kindness to others that you learned from your aunt, and putting it in someone else. You’re part of them now, and so are all the people that are part of you. In a way, nobody is really completely gone.

We’re all made of each other’s ideas and influences. You’re every person who’s ever helped you, and you will carry them forward with you.