Remember when Lucy Van Pelt would set up her “Psychiatric Help” boxes and dispense advice for a nickel? She was never too timid to shy away from the big questions: ”what is the meaning life? Why are here? Why do I never get what I want for Christmas?”
Even as we grow older, the big questions never seem to go away. We might get a glimpse of an answer here or there, but it then seems things change or go wrong and we’re right back where we were in the beginning, asking the same questions.
I’m finding as each “big” birthday passes, it’s only natural to really start wondering what my purpose is. What have I done to make a difference. What mark will I leave on the world.
It can be quite a heady dilemma. You look at someone you went to school with. He now lives in an exciting city now with an important job. He travels the world. Has a beautiful wife and two perfect children who now have two perfect children of their own. He’s already planning his retirement beach house and from all outside indications, he’ll get it. Then he, his perfect wife, and their perfect dog will just go on to a perfect next chapter.
Egads. What are you doing that compares to that?
If we get too caught up in this frenzied thinking, we can’t move. We feel thick and slow. Like we’re not in the mainstream, somehow standing outside of the current that seems to be moving everyone else along.
I love the scene in “Finding Nemo” when Marlin asks the sea turtle where the Australian current is, because he has to ride it to get to Sydney and find his son, Nemo. Crash, the wonderful gnarly turtle, exclaims, “You’re riding it Dude! Check it out!” Sure enough, Marlin’s already in the current, moving forward faster than he realized. Actually his bigger challenge will be to figure out when he needs to jump out of the current, so that he can realize his dream of finding Nemo.
It all just makes me wonder sometimes if I’m looking elsewhere for things I have right now…or looking backward and worrying that I left something behind, when that can’t be…because once something is part of you, it’s along for the ride no matter where you go. Or don’t go.
And as for the whole “what am I doing here” worry that can drive us to devour an entire bag of Cheetos at 2 a.m., thinking small might just be the key.
In his book, “How Then Shall We Live,” author Wayne Muller says, “A life is made up of days. Each day is an opportunity to say something honestly, to make something more beautiful, to create something precious, to give a gift only we can provide for the family of the earth. To dedicate a single act to the healing of others is a day well lived.”
The Dalai Lama said, “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety, a hundred years at the very most. During this period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. Try to be at peace with yourself and help others share that peace. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the meaning of life.”
A single act of healing.
Sharing your peace.
Saying something honestly.
Tiny things, yet huge. Seemingly more and more rare these days.
And needed so so so much.
As boomers, let’s lead the way. Let’s be there for one another. Let’s rock the act of being gentle.
Let’s change the world—one gesture at a time.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”