“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” – Maya Angelou
“We can only see a small part of our Universe – the part that light has had the time to travel across to reach us during the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang. Anything further away can’t be seen, simply because the light from these distant places hasn’t reached us yet…contains around 350 billion large galaxies, each containing anything up to a trillion suns. This part, which is known as the observable Universe, is just over 90 billion light years across…” – excerpt from Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?
In case you missed it, you just read, “...350 billion large galaxies, each containing up to a trillion suns.”
“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Doesn’t matter if you go from the galaxy point of view or Bogart’s, it’s all about perspective. The trick is to look at the big picture.
Which is why I’m writing this post…
I have sometimes been described as an irrepressible optimist. Less charitable descriptions suggest I’m mostly in denial with my Pollyanna view of the world.
I’m quite sure that my endless need to look on the bright side can be irritating. It is, in fact, my default setting and I will find myself being uber-optimistic to counter any negative views, often to the point of ridiculous.
Trust me, even I can find me annoying.
But I have a confession.
Like so many of my posts, I am writing this for myself, both as a public declaration and a way of reinforcing a view that I often need reminding of.
Because, the truth is, my seemingly boundless optimism has some very dark and clearly delineated boundaries. These boundaries show up in the dark of the night, or more frequently, when I first wake up and I find I’ve slipped over that happy line into a dark place where there is no optimism. There is only the dim twilight of sad.
There is no obvious reason for this. I am a grateful person. I know that I have a fabulous life.
And yet, there it is…the murky zone of melancholy. I could blame Christmas with its associative dread of some of what has gone before…the Christmas my mother was dying, the seasonal reminder of my broken relationship with my sister, but the truth is, this state doesn’t just hit in the winter.
Instead, it is something I regularly push against.
It is not always easy to be happy. Besides which, I don’t think a permanent state of happiness should be the goal. That just sounds a little freaky. I do not want to wake up each day with nothing better in mind than ways to amuse myself (please don’t get me wrong, I also strongly believe that creative play is part of a well-balanced life).
Instead, my goal is to be at peace, to be of value, to contribute, to create, to somehow make my corner of the world a slightly better place, and perhaps, within my little orbit, to find some contentment in a life well-lived.
This morning I woke up feeling a darker shade of indigo, but I zipped up my boots and showed up for my volunteer position with the grade seven class to work on our writing assignment. Only a few minutes later, I realized I was having a blast. And when it was time to go, I congratulated them on working hard and digging deep.
“You are all stars,” I said.
I meant it.
I left the school with a heart that felt larger, a heart that suddenly contained six new sparkling celestial bodies. I had just helped six kids articulate their thoughts by writing about what they wanted to contribute to their world.
And once again I discovered that by serving them, I’d saved myself.
This post is my reminder to you and to me.
Life is good and our problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…especially when we get out of our heads and into our hearts.
It’s all very simple.
No one said it would be easy.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
- Mahatma Gandhi