I have a love/hate relationship with social media. There is always a time and place for it. A new funny video or update from a friend I haven’t seen in years – these are the things I love. Needing our phones, endlessly checking emails, feeling the constant pull towards the internet – these are the things I hate. I guess it is like everything else in this world, it is up to us to be responsible with how much we indulge. Just as we can drink an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, we can spend hours and hours perusing Facebook. These days, I chose to sip a nice cup of Java, and browse here and there. It was one of these mornings a few weeks back, that I opened up Instagram for a quick taste.
With my daughter having just started her freshman year at Penn State, I decided to follow their Instagram as a way of connecting with her life. Just last week, I came across a picture that was posted before the first football game. It depicted instruments lying on the vacant football field, a stark contrast against the backdrop of mist rising above the morning dew. The caption read, “Instruments at rest, countdown to game day is on.” As I have always been an empathic person, I often feel things deeply, sometimes well before they are even occurring. For instance, I can feel the excitment on Friday afternoons, and the dread of Sunday nights, whether I am working these hours or not. I can even sense more personal feelings, as I tap into another person’s sadness who walks by, and know when I walk into a room, the mood of most who gather there.
So it was not unusual that I instantly felt the excitement that many Penn State fans feel before an upcoming game. I could imagine it all. Students huddled together in excitement, their faces decorated with blue and white paint, alongside the local fans preparing for their first tailgating adventure of the season. It was coming, arriving within days, and I could feel it all. I smiled. Excited for what was to come for a very accurate description of what would be a fun filled Saturday for Happy Valley.
I sat in bliss, and decided to scroll down, read the comments on that Instagram post. There were a few comments about the band’s instruments, the upcoming game, and good wishes from adorning fans. I smiled, and then I read the last comment. At first I was confused, like I had just seen someone I knew, but in an unfamiliar setting. But then, I refocused, and gave myself time to incorporate what I was reading. It was a plea from a father. The plea was for money, to help his son, Gabriel, who was fighting a rare form of brain cancer.
What a contrast from what I was feeling a minute ago. Grief, desperation and shock rumbled through my belly in a tightness that I knew was felt by his father on a daily basis. A few deep breaths, and I was back to myself, sitting in my living room, pondering my choice of what to do at that moment. For it was not but a few minutes before that I set my intention for the day. I asked for a day that is filled with joy, peace, health and abundance. I asked to follow my heart, open my awareness and to continue to honor my intuitive gifts. Beyond asking, I added words of appreciation for all I have, guidance for myself and my family. And lastly, I asked, if there is someone who needs my help today, please put them in my path. So right then, I knew Gabriel was put in my path.
I copied the link, read his story, and then I donated.
Why Gabriel? There are millions suffering from poverty, disease and mental illness. Because life will hand you what you are to help out with, especially when you ask for it each morning. We do not ever have to go looking for it, but we need to slow down enough to see it.
As I closed out the Instagram post, I could not overlook the name. Gabriel, often a angel messenger who helps watch over the young, and the creative. As I always ask for my children to be watched over, and my writing to be created in the highest light and love, there was Gabriel acknowledging it all.
But what about the boy, Gabriel? Was he not watched over? Why did he become sick? I sat and thought about the contrast in so many peoples lives at any given time. Some are deciding which stove to buy for their kitchen, what to wear for the first day of school, and some are fighting for their lives. Someone receives a promotion and another gets fired.This is our world. This is life. But it goes beyond that. Our world is out of control. All we need to do is turn on the news and see the latest terrorist attack, a tragedy or a senseless shooting.
Living in our world can get overwhelming and we can either become inundated or we can turn a blind eye to everything. Adding to it, most of us are too busy or overwhelmed in our own lives to think about helping others. We are bombarded with information, events, coming at us at all times. We don’t have time to breathe, much less help out another. Yet, the way to breathe easier and slow down, is to ask each morning to help another and then see who is put in our path. When we help another, we always benefit. We leave our immediate world. We feel good. We stop the thoughts in our head, the constant information, and we spring into action. We connect with others in a meaningful way. We begin in the smallest of ways, to change our world.
It does not matter how we help. If we are guided to donate to a cause, then donate. If we get the feeling we should help someone cross the street or fill another’s parking meter, then do that. Maybe helping is about saying a prayer for all who suffer, or telling a person she is beautiful or he is smart. Your gut will tell you when its right and when its not. Perhaps your child just needs to hear your voice, and that is answering a call for help.
Slowly, when asking each day to help another, the beginnings of love and peace will emerge as a small space in our chaotic world. The way to make a difference is to start with one person, which automatically becomes two. For helping another is the surest way to help ourselves. It will happen. We can make a difference one random, or not so random, act of kindness at a time.
Not convinced? According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Giving back has an effect on your body. Studies show that when people donated to charity, the mesolimbic system, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward was triggered. The brain also releases feel-good chemicals and spurs you to perform more kind acts — something psychologists call “helper’s high.”
I do not know why Gabriel has become ill, but I do know life put him in my path that day. Why not ask who can you help today?