Life seems to be dishing out plenty of things to worry about these days, doesn't it? A number of the blogs I follow have reflected that worry, and it's generally lined with a layer of depression, and topped with a heaping dose of frustration. Even a Pollyanna like me has to admit that it can be downright discouraging to see that humanity's still struggling with some of the same old scourges it's dealt with time and time again: hunger, poverty, racism, injustice, ignorance, war, famine, terrorism, etc, etc, etc.
But it doesn't HAVE to be discouraging.
|Life's problems can be overwhelming.|
But they don't HAVE to be.
If we allow ourselves to dwell on the overwhelming magnitude of problems in the whole of the world, it's gonna get us down. I mean, what can we DO about all those problems in the entire world but fret and worry about them? Actually, maybe there is something we can do.
I'd like to tell you a story.
A woman was walking along the beach on a beautiful sunny day. All was right in her world until she came to a stretch of sand covered with starfish. Thousands and thousands of starfish. All colors, all sizes, as far as her eye could see, beautiful helpless starfish, and as she looked at them, she was overwhelmed with sadness, because she knew they were all doomed to die there on that beach.
So she bent over, and very gently picked up one of the starfish, and threw it back splat! into the water. Another woman came along, and stood there watching with a sneer on her face, as the first woman continued to pick up the starfish, one at a time, and toss them splat! back into the water.
"You're a fool!" the second woman said derisively. "Look at all those starfish! All you're doing is kidding yourself, and wasting your time, because you will NEVER be able to save all of those starfish!"
"No," said the first woman with a smile. "But I can save ...
|THIS one ...|
|and THIS one ...|
|And THIS one!|
When the "big picture" is just too damned big to deal with, sometimes the best thing we can do to cope with it is simply break it down into smaller pieces. No, that woman couldn't save every single starfish stranded on that beach, and one might argue that even if she worked day and night until she collapsed in exhaustion, her rescue efforts wouldn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, especially to the thousands of starfish that died in the sand.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
But her efforts made a tremendous difference to each and every one of those starfish she DID save.
The same concept applies to each of us. Maybe we can't solve the world's problems, but we CAN make a positive difference in the lives of the people we encounter every day. Something as simple as a smile and a kind word can have an enormous impact on someone's day and outlook. A smile may be over in a flash, but the memory of it may last a lifetime.
And we can do MORE.
Part of the frustration so many people feel at the scope of world problems these days comes from of a sense of helplessness. But we aren't helpless. We CAN "brighten the corner where we are." We CAN volunteer and make a positive difference in our communities. There are programs in every town in this country, for sure, and possibly in most towns in the world, where volunteers can help the hungry, the sick, the poverty-stricken.
Next Monday, I'll tell you a little bit about what it's like to volunteer in a soup kitchen. No, my work never did a thing to ease world hunger, but it did make a difference in the lives of the people, the families, the many children who left there with a full stomach.
|Let's save as many starfish as we can.|