Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meaning In The Mundane

I am the type of person who wants to do things BIG. I want to make a big splash, a big difference, a big impact, etc. A few years ago I went to Jamaica because I wanted to do big-time service but when I was there I learned service is the little things too.

I’m starting to believe I can find meaning and purpose in the small things as well.

Last week I would have told you to make difference, to really change the world, requires a best-selling book or a cure for cancer, something like that. Then I started thinking about it. I started burrowing down into the root cause of “making a difference.” Why do I want to write a book? Why is finding a cure for cancer such a big deal? Then it hit me: duh, it’s because it affects other people! I started to realize the change, the growth, the impact comes from the interaction with people. Finding a cure for cancer is only meaningful if people know about it, if the antidote becomes widespread. Writing a book is only helpful if people actually read it and it touches them, changes their way of thinking.

As I pondered this I realized my everyday life has meaning and value because I interact with others all the time. I realized the purpose behind my life comes into play with my daily actions. Saying please and thank you. Smiling. Acknowledging the homeless woman on the corner. They may seem like tiny, tiny things but I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Asking the bank teller how her day is going may not be earth-shattering but she will certainly remember if I’m snarly and impatient.

We all touch people everyday with the way we talk to them, with the feeling we put behind our words. When it comes down to it, the meaning and the purpose in life is how we affect those around us. I for one want to be the type of person who inspires, who uplifts. I want to touch people and let them know love exists, hope exists, God exists. I want others to see another life is possible, another world is possible. Life can be great and grand and fulfilling. Appearing on Oprah would be great but my creator gives me the opportunity to make a difference all the time. Everyday counts. Every minute counts. Every interaction counts. Here. Now.

These are not my permanent thoughts but I would like them to be. I pray for the awareness to become deepened. I want to wake up every morning with joy for life, joy for what I’m doing because I recognize my very existence is meaningful. I want to see the value and meaning and purpose in my life even though I’m not yet a published author. I want to feel like my life has purpose even though on the surface all it consists of is waking up and going to work everyday. I want to truly believe by spreading love and light everyday there is meaning in my life.

I have the same wish for others.

I envision a world where everyone everywhere sees the higher purpose in their seemingly mundane lives. I dream of a world where we understand how we interact with others is where the difference, the change, the meaning comes from. Where we realize it may not seem like much but smiling at the hot dog vendor has merit. I dream of a world where we pursue our big dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, legislators, writers and yet still have sweet and smiling behavior on the day to day level. I dream of a world where every morning we all wake up with joy, joy for life, joy for what we’re doing. Where we find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in the everyday.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Friday, February 20, 2009


“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.” – Emily Dickinson

This has been a rough week for me. A bunch of my friends and coworkers were laid off last Friday. The feelings I have for someone do not seem to be reciprocated. I’ve spent much of this week crying and feeling completely downtrodden.

My mother pointed out to me the difference between this week and last week is I had hope. Hope for my life. Hope for the future.

When we said our goodbyes on the telephone on Wednesday I sat down on my bed and cradled my royal blue, spiral-bound notebook. I wrote in my journal that I wanted hope. I wanted hope to come back. I wanted hope to reside in me once again.

I’ve written before about how when we want something all we have to do is ask. And I firmly believe it’s true. So I asked.

I asked for hope and hope returned. Like a sunbeam into my heart, hope flooded me once more.

The reason I mention this is because I think with hope we can weather any storm. I think with hope we can get through anything. If we believe our current situation is temporary, if we believe change can happen, does happen, will happen, our spirits are lifted and we can soldier on.

I write this with the dream of inspiring others. Of letting others know even at their darkest moments, even when life seems horrible and they cannot imagine a worse pain, hope is there. Hope is the bird singing through the gale. Hope can see you through anything. Hope can act like a lighthouse safely guiding you back to shore. Hope can buoy your spirits and urge you forward, help you swim toward land.

For those poor souls who feel hopeless, for those poor souls who are sitting in darkened rooms, I beg you to pray for hope. I beg you to ask for hope, to wipe the dirt from the windows of your heart and stand up straight. Your creator put you on this Earth for big things, for important things, for great things. Your creator put you on this Earth to fulfill a purpose, to fulfill a mission, whatever that may be. Hope is one of your keys to success.

I envision a world where we jump up after we’ve been knocked down. A world where hope stays with us. A world where we know we can get through anything and everything. A world where we see the light, we follow the light, we become the light. I envision a world filled with optimism about the days to come. A world where we have hope we can accomplish anything. A world where obstacles do not deter us but rather strengthen our resolve to meet our goals. I dream of a world where hope is everlasting. I dream of a world where everyone has hope in their hearts.

I know another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A New Economy

This morning I had a nightmare the magazine I work for folded. I dreamt I was out of a job and couldn’t pay my rent because I have pretty much zero savings. I woke up with my heart pounding feeling scared and dissatisfied. Dissatisfied not for my own sake but for the way the world currently runs. Dissatisfied with the unemployment and homelessness and greed ravaging the world. Dissatisfied with our entire economic system. Not just the current recession but the system in general.

I know I've written about this before but I’m tired of this ‘fend for yourself,’ and ‘rise and fall on your own,” business. Why should my well-being rest squarely on my shoulders alone? Why should anyone go hungry? Why should anyone live on the streets? Why should anyone scrape by? Why can’t we as humans reach out to one another and support each other? Why can’t we know the true meaning of community?

As humans each and everyone one of us has a right to life, to have our basic needs met. Every person should be guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.

This current economic system? It’s not working. If it did we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are now.

I am not suggesting we pick up communism because clearly that doesn’t work so well either. The best economic theory I’ve come across thus far is PROUT – the Progressive Utilization Theory. Prout says the basic necessities of life should be guaranteed for everyone. It values local businesses and local cultures. It says there should be three tiers of business: 1.) cooperatives 2.) private enterprise 3.) government-owned industries. It recognizes resources are limited and should be treated as such.

I want to live in a world where I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt my needs will be met. I want to operate on more than just hope and faith, although I obviously think those are important too. I want to live in a world where there is zero unemployment. But also a world where people who truly cannot work are also taken care of. I want to live in a world where workers are not exploited, where people are not commodities. I want to live in a world where there is a living wage. Where ownership falls into the hands of the people who run the business, not a select few at the top. I want to live in a world where resources are more evenly spread. Where I can pursue the arts, express my creativity and really enjoy my life because I’m not working tirelessly to survive. I want to live in a world where “homelessness” fades from our lexicon because it is eradicated. Where people scratch their heads in confusion when they hear the word “poverty.” I want to live in a world where everyone, everywhere is valued. And not just humans, but all of god’s creatures. I want to live in a world where we nurture the environment, where we protect and honor all life because we see the value in everything.

That world can exist, will exist, does exist. You, I, we can make it happen.

I know not only is another world possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Keeping The Faith

Keeping the faith is hard work.

When things don't work out the way I want them to I start railing against the Universe: "Why are you putting me through this?? I hate you for doing this to me! Why can't it happen the way I want?!?" etc. I get angry and pissed off and feel like screaming. Basically I turn into a petulant child.

It's funny though because I'm getting upset things aren't working out the way I want them to. Little ole me really thinks I know what's best for my life as opposed to the force responsible for life and death? As opposed to the force that causes the world to spin? As opposed to the force that causes flowers to bloom and the sun to shine? Really? Really?

I think of something a friend said to me recently. She said every moment of anger/sadness/frustration is a love poem from our creator and it's up to us to decipher it. I see how my frustration boils down to a lack of patience. How I want things to happen NOW, this instant. But some things cannot happen now. Some things take time. I see how my creator is trying to cultivate patience in me and unshakable faith.

And if I really think about it I've been shown time and again what's best for me happens. I've been shown time and again my wildest dreams are ant-sized compared to what my creator has in store for me. But I'm human so keeping the faith is hard. I have a tendency to doubt.

For now I keep dusting myself off when I stumble on my path toward steadfast faith. For now I keep picking myself up and I keep going forward because I know where I want to be. And this? This is not it.

I want to be in a place where my faith does not waver. I want to be in a place of constant trust and surrender. I want to be in a place where I have no doubt my creator is taking care of me. Where frustration does not exist because rather I savor what's in front of me. Where I understand things take time and I may have to wait a little bit. Where I am ok with the questions and the ambiguity because I have hope and faith things will be turn out and they will be glorious. Where I trust even the crappy hard things are in my best interest.

And I have that wish for others.

I dream of a world where we all turn our frustration into something positive. A world where we have patience. A world where we understand everything is in our best interest. I dream of a world where trust and faith reign supreme. Where we all truly believe the universe is taking care of us. Where we open ourselves up and surrender to the divine will. Where we allow ourselves to be carried like sailboats on the water because we know there is a force greater than ourselves guiding the way.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.