When I was a teenager, I was convinced that I was on this earth to serve some greater purpose. I had a Destiny with a Capital D.
I knew beyond reason that at some point in my adult life, I’d take up some sword, some standard, some greater cause. I pictured myself realizing that this, this was the moment I was made for, and everything that had happened in my life leading up to this moment was specifically meant to shape me into a creature who could face the challenge and prevail.
That self-myth stuck. Through those trials that did not kill me – those ones that made me stronger – this myth was somewhere in the back of my mind. It was the grain of faith hinting that I was still in training for something larger – that perhaps there was even a reason that bad thing had happened to me. During more peaceful times, the myth rested dusty and unexamined in the corner. As recent as last June, I wrote about my “sleeping inner activist” and how someday I was going to wake her up and lift my blazing sword into the air for some cause or another.
Though it may have helped me keep my head high through some crazy times, the main result of this unexamined myth has been an overwhelming sense of guilt and inadequacy.
In choosing to be Selfish (in the best of ways) and focus on living my life in pursuit of my own goals and happiness, I’ve put all sorts of banner waving and blazing sword wielding on indefinite hold. Subconsciously, I’ve had a huge guilt trip running because I’ve been shirking my Capital-D-Destiny of making the world a better place by enjoying my own life.
Does anyone else notice how goofy that is? How internally inconsistent it is with everything else I hold as true?
Remember, I believe it’s important to note that we’re all snowflakes. In that long post, I wrote that I didn’t have to create something new, “I only have to create something that is authentic. By being true to myself in my snowflakeness, I can add my voice to the global chant. I’m not a solo soprano adding an aria…. I’m an alto adding a tiny bit of harmony.”
The truth is, by enjoying my own life, I am already making the world a better place.
Stay with me, because here’s the cool part….
By being authentic, passionate, engaged in the world around us, we are all banner-waving world changers. And we probably don’t even know it.
The image I’ve selected looks to me like a handful of pebbles tossed into still water. I chose this image because each pebble causes a series of ripples. Some of those ripples overlap with ripples from other pebbles (and we have the birth of a H2O Venn diagram). Sometimes we get tiny glimpses of the ripples we create in other peoples lives. We discover, entirely by chance, that we’ve changed someone’s way of thinking, or we’ve inspired someone to try something new.
But most of the time, we’re the clueless pebbles, exploring this funky new medium, unaware of the hundreds of tiny ways we impact the people around us.
Today, I realized that this was enough for me. That living my life, speaking my truth, and inspiring people around me in my immediate sphere of influence is world-changing.
I can’t rescue all of the homeless dogs. I don’t have the space, patience, time or money for it. But I rescued Lingo, and I can give him love, attention, care and a good home. Nope, haven’t changed the world. But I have changed his world. And he’s changed mine, and Ethan’s and Brett’s… etc.
I can’t get the whole world to read my blog. But maybe my fiction – steeped with my authentic voice, riddled with the themes I need to teach – maybe it will make someone think. Maybe it will spark a debate. Maybe my words will give someone the validation they need to live their own life – to pursue their own dreams.
Who inspires you, baby?
When I polled my Facebook spheres of influence today – the tiny pond that I can ripple – about who or what inspires them, well over half of the responses were the names of ordinary people who touch their lives. Spouses, parents, children, aunts, friends. These are people who have changed someone else’s world – and probably don’t know it.
The truth is, your face certainly pops up in someone else’s mind sometimes to help them make a decision about something. I had a coworker credit me with her choice to practice yoga one morning before work. Another friend once credited me with getting her out of the house to go for a run. I am not standing behind these people blowing a workout whistle. I have inspired them. By pursuing my own passions in front of them, by talking with them about things that excite me.
Some of the people who responded named historical figures, celebrities or masters at the arts. Who are these people but those who chose to live their passions and put their thoughts, ideas and artistry out there for the world to see?
This is the moment I was made for, and everything that has happened in my life leading up to this moment was meant to shape me into a woman who can accept that I’m going to change the world in small degrees and little ripples. And that is enough.