Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What do you do for the world?

The question posed was, "Sept. 11 is the anniversary of a very tragic event. To make the world better what do you do? Charity donations or support, volunteering, living green or ?"

I'd like to say that I'm spending weekends rescuing people from horrid situations (though we did rescue a homeless cat and I'm very proud of that. We did it when we said we just couldn't do it. It had to be done, so we did that and care for her every day.) I'd like to say that I'm doing something exotic and life-saving every day.

I have friends who are fire fighters and police officers. Very noble. My niece is the a doctor. I used to diaper a doctor. Sheesh. Amazing. The other niece is a teacher. They're making the world a better place.

The first thing that came to mind when I read the question was to say what I'm not doing. Maybe that's a cop-out. Maybe that's the right answer for me, though, because I'm actively, on a daily basis not doing things in an effort to help to make the lives of the people I come in contact with at least a little better.

As much as possible, I try to think of the other guy -- or gal. If someone cuts in line, wants that particular shopping cart or parking place or wants to fight for a store dressing room, they can have it. I've witnessed Dressing Room Rage and it isn't pretty. I'll come back later when I have more time if necessary.

It's not a point of backing down in situations. It means not turning encounters with family, friends or strangers into some kind of confrontation. Remember what's important. Every little thing is not a competition.

When that person is making a cutting remark or glaring across the room, I check myself before I get my back up. There's a mental image, a snapshot ready to replay in my mind.

I think of when my mother was going through some of her worst time with Alzheimer's Disease. I was her caretaker and there came a time when, thanks in part to major lack of sleep, I'd reached physical and emotional burnout point. I uncharacteristically snapped at people, strangers and friends alike regardless of the situation. I never stopped to put on an "I'm in pain & stressed because I haven't slept in days as I'm caring for my dying Mother" T-shirt.

These days, I'll count to ten, breathe, remind myself not to take it personally. They're probably going through something in their lives, too. A lot of problems are invisible. If they're going to get some kind of satisfaction from a skirmish with a stranger, that stranger isn't going to be me.

WWMD? What would Mother do?
What would I want my Mother to see me do in the situation? Whatever it takes for me to keep it together and respond correctly in a given situation.

So yes, I do quite a bit of recycling. I do what I can to help the elderly, children and animals, and I donate to charities whenever possible. But maybe my main daily contribution to the world is a mindful attempt not to add to the stress, overwhelm and "life rage" that seems so prevalent in the atmosphere nowadays. The goal is to replace some of it with kindness.

A previous blog post was about anniversary reactions to significant dates.

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