05 December 2011

What Can I Do?

The hour before me is a blank slate.  The day before me is as yet unwritten.  There's plenty of time before me that's just waiting for me to do something, to make my mark on the world, to accomplish something unique or to rest myself so that I can recharge my energy for some future need.  What can I do with this time?  What can I contribute to the world in the next hour?  In the next day?  What can I, as a simple person alone, add to the world that will make a difference?

Does the difference have to happen on the level of many people being affected by what I do?  No, it doesn't--I can make a difference in the life of just one person, and then trust in the ripple effect, which means that a good act will spread as the recipient of that action is inspired to commit a positive act him or herself in response to their positive experience.  Do I have to know just what that person does--if anything--in response to my action?  No, I don't; in fact, not knowing shows more trust that the world can take care of itself and doesn't need me to make sure that everything's okay with the world.

Does my act have to be acknowledged in order for me to know that it's had a positive effect?  Not at all.  Sometimes the unacknowledged acts, the things that we do that simply pass into history without anyone else noticing them, are the most important of our lives.  Do I need to let someone else know what I've done in order to feel better about it myself?  Not at all--and often when we tell others what we've done, we do so with the intention of being rewarded with some sort of compliment.  If we do this, then there's a good chance that we can diminish the purity of what we've done--a simple good act for the sake of a simple good act becomes a simple good act for the sake of acknowledgement or praise.

What can I do today?  What can I do in the next hour?  How can I affect the world in simple, positive ways without having to change my life or the lives of others?  What things can I do that will brighten someone's day, or hour, or even someone's few moments.  What can I give someone else that they can take with them throughout their day and remember the good feelings they had when they first received the encouragement or praise or simple gift?

What can I do?

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait
a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

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