Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In the BIN: What's Possible? And Does It Matter?

The other day, a friend of mine who blogs privately wrote about receiving a letter from her grandmother's best friend. Despite her grandmother having long passed away, her friend continues to write encouraging, uplifting, "I'm proud of you" kind of notes to my friend. In describing this for those of us who read her blog, my friend wrote, "It sort of chokes me up; it feels so nice when I often don't feel like anything I do is right by anyone anymore." I'll come back to this in a moment.

I think it's important to stay on top of what's going on in the world and to read or watch as many news and information sources as possible in an effort to get the whole story, but in truth, the news often depresses me. I tire of reading about human cruelty, government sponsored despotism, the degradation of democracy, murder and mayhem, child abuse, and the like. Like my friend who blogs privately, I, too, want to crawl under the covers, shutter all the windows, make like Howard Hughes in the desert (only without the crazy element), and just hide.

I often think, "Does any of it matter? Do I matter?" I often feel like regardless of what I do--whether it's help my next door neighbor carry in his groceries, spend a day putting up rooms full of wallboard with my dad, tutor an inner city kid, pick up litter, donate to a cause, or whatever--it doesn't make a difference in the overall scheme of humanity and decency and helpfulness. And even though I've advocated for greener living--I want to believe that recycling and using energy saving appliances and transportation really makes a difference for the earth and its inhabitants--I'm not as certain as a citizen of the most consumerist nation in the world that it's going to stick or be sustainable.

And that leads me back to my friend who blogs privately and the sentiments we share. Were it not for a few well-placed people in our lives, we might succumb to the despair, climb under the covers, shutter the windows, and make like Howard Hughes (without the crazy.) In other words, we might resign ourselves to the belief that the world really is going to hell in a handbasket and none of us--including me, myself, and I--can make a difference.

But then, things like notes from the lifelong friend of a grandmother restore my faith in humanity. Or, yesterday, the email I had from a friend telling a group of us that his mother's cancer has come back and she is dying. He wrote, "I don't know why I'm writing this exactly... but I thought I would... I dunno... share or something like that." This is a big, burly, manly man of a friend with the soul of a lion and the heart of a child. In his time of sadness he was being vulnerable and saying, "I can't bear this burden alone" and in reaching out to us, he asked us to make a difference. To feel like we matter. Because to him, we do.

You'll note that this entry's title begins with "In the BIN." As many of you know, when I title an entry like that, I'm usually highlighting a variety of really notable blog entries I've read or websites I've found recently. Not this time. This time, I want to highlight one website only. If you feel like nothing you do matters to anyone anymore or you have ideas about how to make a difference, but you need some inspiration to realize them, or you want to know that the world isn't just all bad news, don't waste another minute here. Go here and realize what's possible.

There's a new story every day, so even if you feel like you can't achieve what today's noted person is doing, there are stories to inspire you. This is one of my favorites.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I was just reading friend's blog and commented thusly:

I often get overwhelmed by the news. So I choose to limit my exposure to it. That may seem like hiding my head in the sand, but I see it thusly: Mathematically, the ratio of "good things" to "bad things" that happen in real life is greater than 1000:1. Therefore, I need to watch less bad shit (the news) and be alert for much more of the good stuff (in life all around me).

Reading that again, I would add: And ADD to the good things around me as much as possible.

- Di

Cele said...

To start my day off with such a Wow! factor, and the need to redo my makeup. Thank you for the inspiration and the cry.

Jess said...

This is such a sweet post. Thanks for the link.

Phoenix Touch said...

I praise the Gods and the Universe and Allah and all the other Happy Superhero Individuals that led me to you. Knowing you only electronically (thus far), I feel blessed to do so. You touch my heart and inspire me. YOU mean so much to me!
*whispering* i love you

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Di: Hear, hear! I keep trying to figure out what my own life is suppose to be lately and I've realized that part of what I need to do more of is get out in the community and try to make a difference rather than sitting around bitching about the bad news or feeling sorry for myself.

Cele: Sorry you had to redo your make-up!

Jess: Thanks! Hope you enjoy Daryn Kagan's site.

Abgue: I also thank the myriad gods and goddesses of the universe that I found your blog. You provoke a great deal of thought for me. Love you, too! ;-)

Anonymous said...

This blogger friend of yours counts herself as blessed to have a thoughtful friend like you to lift her spirits and help her get a better perspective, I'll wager.

I am like you -- sometimes thinking that things I do out of pure, good-hearted intent wouldn't mean anything much. But I now remember that some of us are so down-hearted that even small crumbs of kindness give us hope.

Thanks for helping us all think about the meaningful things in life. Oh, and thanks for founding a new church of Tewksbury Ward. It's a great place to gather.

Liz said...

Awesome, thanks.

I don't watch the news anymore, except to see the traffic report (which is depressing enough, right?). A "good news" network would be most welcome.

j.m. tewkesbury said...

Anon: I keep hoping that one day kindness will win out over ruthlessness. (And glad you're enjoying the Tewkesbury Ward.)

Liz: Isn't that a great site? I'm glad it's out there to give us more than just the bad news!