Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stepping into small responsibilities

When my mother died in 1997, my father vowed to honor her memory by making someone smile every day. He lived another 8 years and when I last checked with him a few weeks before his rather sudden death, he had lived into that vow.

My father never saw saving the world as his responsibility. I knew him as a man of considerable integrity who treated employees generously and fairly and loved his family deeply and lived his life providing a good home and college education for his four kids. He was a man who grew kinder and more liberal as he aged but he didn't take on big causes.

I thought of him this morning when I came across a sentence scribbled into my creativity notebook.

I've had any number of conversations with friends about our nagging guilt about not solving the world's problems.The guilt comes, for my part anyway, from living a very privileged life. I am American, white, highly educated, skilled, have enough money, a comfortable home, more than enough of everything and way more than most people on the planet. Surely, all that abundance comes with big responsibilities to take care of others. Yet I am also introverted, need a lot of solitude, and smart enough to know that our global problems are just that: global. It will take more than me and more than a village to fix them. So I am learning to be content to make the efforts I can.

And then I found this quote: "The purpose of life is to help others live slightly less hard lives." What an amazing purpose to have for one's life! That means that my contributing to the food bank and the humane society, my volunteering, my voting, my petting of stray cats--it all adds up to helping others live slightly less hard lives. A responsibility I can easily step into.

Like my dad with his smiles.

1 comment:

Bridget B. said...

That is beautiful. And just what I needed today.