It is way too easy to get lost in our world. We live among billions of people, each attending to their own lives, families, jobs and if there is time, having a bit of fun. Somewhere in between work and play, we may find we have a passion that hides, lurking in the bushes like an excited child waiting to pop out at us. A passion for something higher than ourselves, outside of our personal lives.
It may be cleaning up the planet, and we may hop on the bandwagon, finding ourselves writing letters to our congressmen or posting pictures on Facebook about ways to stop using plastic. Or we may become outraged at the poisoning of our food, or the abuse of animals, both domestic and farm. Some of us have a passion for politics and we stay glued to our televisions, watching and waiting, yelling and complaining about the latest lie or dirty campaign. Or we build homes in Central America or help to gentrify our own neighborhoods.
How wonderful to feel called to a higher purpose, but it also may feel like a burden – the more the passion arises, the more helpless we feel. The problems of our world seem huge, overwhelming and our small part – well, are we really making a difference? And of course, there is that other side of our lives. Work, parenting, baseball games. We carry on doing. Carpooling, enjoying trips to the theatre, hanging out with friends and cooking our dinners – heck this is just as important, and many don’t have time to venture out to help our planet. And yet, the bigger things, the issues of our world still remain in our peripheral vision, gnawing at us to do something. And what can we do, really? Can we really make a difference?
I have come to realize that we can make a difference. But we need to start small, really small. Almost every day, I find myself walking in the woods, a path near my house. The abundance of trees surrounding the trail and brook that provide a home for birds, fish insects and the occasional snake. It is beautiful, serene and often to my liking, I find myself alone, with only the accompany of a dog.
A few times a year, they stock the brook and the few ponds where the water gather with Trout, and fishermen have begun to gather each day. With the fisherman comes discarded garbage, some of it meant to make the trash can, others left without care. At first, this angered me, and I walked by, thinking why people toss their trash without just walking a few steps to the garbage can. And then I begin thinking about all the plastic in the world collecting within the beautiful waters of our oceans and land, and then I think what can I do really? Ugh! All those grocery bags! But just the other day, I stopped thinking that I can’t make a difference.
I heard a voice deep within my being that said, just pick it up. I looked around. How can I pick up all this garbage? I will spend all my time cleaning up and not enjoying my walk which has come to calm and clear my head, proving peace and serenity in a chaotic world. Then the voice returned, it said, you do not need to pick up everything. Just pick up one piece. So I did. And then I thought I can carry three or four pieces to the garbage can, and I did. And I went on with my walk.
The next day, I set out down my favorite path, I found more garbage and picked up a few pieces and put them in the trash. And I began to feel, as small as it was, that I was making a difference. For if we do something small, that is right in front of us, this is the most direct way we can change our world. Even if we feel like we are not making a dent.
For we need both, the masses and the individual. Would Rosa Parks, in 1955 have had the strength to refuse to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus which spurred a city-wide boycott, had the masses not come before her, marching and protesting? She was not the first to resist, as there were many that came before her throughout the 40’s and early 50’s, and after her. It was the momentum, persistence and patience that eventually led to changes in our segregation laws. And there was that one person that said, I can make a difference. Rosa did not act alone, and neither do we when we perform one random act of kindness.
When I turn my attention back to my own life, in the year 2017, and I look at the myriad of protesting, marching, and discord within our government and the chaos and fighting going on in the world as a whole, I think can I really make a difference? I mean, I am no Mother Theresa – not even close.
And yet, as I stepped out of my car to go grocery shopping, and kicked an empty Gatorade bottle, I heard that voice again, saying, pick it up and toss it in the garbage. So I did. Is this a bit grandiose for me to think about that I, alone, can make a difference in the world, by picking up an empty Gatorade bottle? No. Because I am not alone. There are masses of people looking to clean up our planet, recycling programs, as well as, climate change programs that are doing their best to survive the agenda of our current government. I don’t have to be working in Washington, DC to make a difference.
How Is my picking up the small pieces of garbage making a difference in all the pollution, plastics and garbage wrecking havoc upon our planet? Can you imagine if we all picked up a few pieces of garbage, give a few dollars to someone who is homeless or took a few moments to let someone go in front of us? Or we just sent our prayers everyday to those who are less fortunate than we are – those who are hungry, unsafe or in harm’s way when walking outside their front door. We think we have to do something huge, but we don’t.
We don’t even have to seek it out – our higher self passions. What if we all woke each more, and took a few seconds, and uttered the phrase, “Today, let me be the answer to someone else’s prayers. or today I will do one random act of kindness.” And then went about our day, until the opportunity arose for us to help. I bet we would all find our small moment to do something to help our beautiful planet with the amazing billions of people who live on it. If we all said a prayer, in between our play off games and sales appointments, or if we just noticed when something or someone came across our path that needed our attention, we really would not need to leave our living rooms, unless called to do so. And this is as much a reminder for myself, as it is for anyone reading this article. We all get caught up in our personal lives, forgetting how we can make a difference, or help one another.
We all have a little voice inside of our heads that speak to us. We just need to spend a few moments in quiet, so we can hear it. We can all make a difference. There is a Rosa Parks, in all of us. We just need to figure out what bus we are meant to get on, and then climb aboard.