Monday, January 21, 2013


This was a Facebook post I did today, but I think that it captured a thought I have had for a long time about why I do things in the first place...
Recently, a question was posed to me from a dear friend. She asked me why I feel to driven to be involved in so many things and extend myself so thin. It is actually a question that I have thought about a lot, but frankly, I don't know if I can answer it without the help of a psychologist. What I was able to answer was that I have never been content to sit on the sidelines and watch the world change around me. I want to be a part of change, even if that part is very small. I've continued to think about the question and my answer, and what keeps coming to mind isn't why I (or someone else) do things. Rather, I think the question is "why not". 
Every time someone is presented with an opportunity to make a difference in the world, big or small, there is always a reason not be involved. I'm not strong enough. It's none of my business. I don't have the skill. I'm too weak. I don't have the knowledge. It's too hard. What is it that counters that pull inside that says, "Do something"? I venture to say that usually, the thing that stops us is insignificant in comparison to the positive impact that we can have on someone's life. I view life as a series of obstacles that I need to negotiate, over, under, or through, to get me to a goal. For me (cue the psychologist) the goal is to die knowing that what I did in life and who I was mattered, and resonated beyond my mortality. 
 It is my expression of empathy in the world. Empathy is more and more a rare and precious emotion. It is the glue that binds a civilized society. It is built upon our personal understanding that we matter, which is in turn, grown by love we feel around us. That is, a loving family, safety, and security, and knowing that we are significant. Empathy resides in each of us, but it can be buried in fear, ego, and a self-centered perspective. Also things we all possess. Our challenge is to recognize that the obstacles that keep us from doing things that matter to others, are in fact obstacles that make us feel like we matter less. 
Therefore, the path to feeling like you matter is making others feel like they matter. The answer then, seems self-evident. It's not about why do we do things. It's a question of what's stopping us, and why would we want or allow anything to stop us? The irony is that doing things that matter to others is ultimately the selfish act of making us matter in our own hearts. The simpler answer. It feels good.

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