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I've become more and more convinced of this over the past few months. Perhaps I should have been more aware or more insightful before now, but I wasn't. I was honed in on building a career in order to attain the "comforts" of a life I thought I wanted.
Epiphany: I don't believe I'm on this earth to be comfortable. I'm here to shine light in dark places. I'm here to help. This begs the question: who do I help? There's obvious needs all over the world. I wrote a post back in July lamenting the abduction of Nigerian school girls. My response to this atrocity was "Don't Do Nothing." However, even a few months ago, I lacked the insight to fully complete that post with the most essential part of not doing nothing (i.e. doing something).
I made a meager effort of saying something along the lines of we should stay informed and get involved in the social media movement to bring attention to the issue at hand. But I remember, even when writing that portion of the post, asking myself, "What can I do?" The best I could come up with was: Twitter? (Which, even then, sounded lame. Now it just sounds pathetic.)
Then I read a comment to that post by Danni (one of my favorite bloggers!) who said,
. . . it starts with trying to save one little girl at a time in our own sphere of influence.
Danni, if you're reading this, thank you. Your words clarified my butter. I was looking outside of myself, outside my own sphere of influence, for ways to "do something." Yet daily I am surrounded by those who need help, need kindness, need a little flicker of light to drive back shadows. (I'm a mother and a teacher and a guidance counselor, for crying out loud!)
It reminds me of the analogy/story I heard told of 2 people walking down a beach that was covered with starfish that had been washed in with the tide. The poor starfish, if left on the beach, were going to die. So one of the people started picking up starfish and hurling them back into the sea.
The other person said, "Why bother? There's too many. You can't possibly make a difference."
The first person replied, "Maybe not," Then she picked up another starfish and threw it into the water. "But I can make a difference for this one."
Hopefully this doesn't sound as though I've now taken on a "savior complex" and want to run around with a red cape throwing out life preservers to every single person I encounter. (Though that does evoke a funny image.) I am by no means perfect and have plenty of gloppy butter and dark shadows with which I struggle.
But perfection is not a requirement for kindness; an absence of shadows not a prerequisite for offering light in a dark place. Sometimes it's my awareness of my own shadows and shortcomings that allows me to be more compassionate to someone desperately in need of compassion, to be more gentle with someone who has been too roughly handled, to be kind even if kindness isn't returned.
I want to do more. I want to help. I want to be an Anyway Person. I want to be a Starfish Thrower.
So this is me, not doing nothing. I earnestly believe that's why I'm here. I just needed a little clarified butter first.