We are so often caught up on our own, narcissistic lives that we often lose sight of the “big picture”. To begin this reading, ask yourself this: what do you think of when someone asks you to look at the “big picture”. Do you think of where your education is leading you, who you will be drawn to in your romantic life, what is the purpose of the 40+ hours you dedicate to work each week, where your place in history is or can be, how do others view you, or what you will accomplish before you die? I’d counter any of those by saying that none of them really matter.
In the grand scheme of things, what really matters doesn’t have anything to do with who you are. What really matters is the world around us. In the past year, I would say that this realization has offered me the most personal growth of anything else I’ve stayed up until 4 A.M. contemplating.
I would list one of my best attributes as the ability to put myself in another person’s shoes so that I can understand and relate to almost anyone on some level. As I’ve done this mental experiment over and over, figuring out the people around me and around the world, I’ve developed my own methods for how to best address each audience. The only thing that has really disturbed me was when I ventured out to put myself in the shoes of the less fortunate. I’m talking about the victims of AIDS, cancer, persecution, poverty in third-world countries, involuntary homelessness, resentful drug addictions, depression, and discrimination. Most of these problems are so enormous that I’m not really sure where to start or what to do. But, the first step to fixing anything is becoming intimately aware of the problem - it’s taking ownership of those issues and making a seemingly distanced problem your problem.
Nobody can do everything that they want. Our life paths are not really in our own control. What I want readers to get out of this is awareness. When you hear about a friend’s friend who has cancer, pretend that it’s your best friend. When you see a commercial of starving children in another country, imagine that you live there. When you experience a homeless man asking for a buck, realize it could very well be your son, brother, or old classmate that was voted “most likely to succeed”. When your path leads you to a stranger in tears, an old lady who drops her change, a child that can’t find her mother, or someone wheeling up a handicap ramp do something. I hope that, through this post and this network, I’m able to influence some minor and major acts of kindness. If you’ve read this and, subsequently, done something positive, please post a comment to show that being a good person is not only rewarding, but is also contagious.
Personally, I think that so far I have helped a lot of people in very minor ways. I’ve gotten McDonald’s gift cards to hand out to the homeless, went on a bike ride for diabetes (honestly, I wasn’t able to do the ride, but I still raised funds), donated towards every charitable cause people I know have raised funds for, offered my services and time free to gay/lesbian couples who want to get married in California, and done a lot of day-to-day types of things. I know, these are very minor things, but hopefully my path will allow me to make much greater accomplishments. One major action that I’ve decided is that my next “vacation” will be engineering bridges and/or structures in another country, where I can use my education to make a lasting difference for many others.
Sorry my posts so far have been serious. I promise my next one will have you saying OMG I was ROFL so hard