idea of having purpose in your life is a pretty daunting task. Do any of us ever feel like we are doing “enough”? I do harbour (not-so-secretly) a dream of somehow changing the world . . . problem is that I’m not really sure how I’m going to do it. I do know that I want to find a way so that everyone can become the very best version of themselves (happy and healthy). It’s a big dream of a society where people are kind, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, healthy . . . a place where abuse, greed, hatred, intolerance no longer exist. Where people feel fulfilled and feel compelled to share their happiness and sense of wealth with others.
I once shared a related dream with one of the top volleyball coaches from the US. I told him that I wanted to help “reform” our education system based on what I’ve learned in coaching (learning through discovery and experience rather than just regurgitating facts) so that kids get the tools they need to create their own happy & healthy lives. He dismissed me with a “well, that’s a pretty lofty goal.” I was left pondering if I am seriously deluded in my own abilities – how the hell am I really going to that anyways? I believe the phrase “delusions of grandeur” popped into my brain that afternoon.
This dream is still swirling around in the back parking lot of my brain and I am sometimes able to convince myself that the work that I do is helping to bring this ideal forward. As you could tell from my blog about the International Sport Symposium, I felt very connected to my work and my purpose. I was able to talk and inspire hope in people about the future of sport participation and coaching. I also know that my dedication to my work helps others to do their work and so on . . . by providing support to the Presidents of our 41 National Federations, I am helping to build volleyball programs for kids or build volleyball courts where none existed before. And of course, I truly that believe kids (and the world at large) have a greater chance at a happy & healthy life when they participate in sports.
But, there are also days where I am busy with spreadsheets and administrative “tasks” (read: chores) that I feel so insignificant. Particularly when I read about horrible things like the Penn State abuse case. How is distributing sport equipment in Panama really helping the world when there are still educated people in North America who see a 10 year old being abused and say/do nothing? How is that possible in 2011? How is there a serial rapist who at age 22 attacked 3 women within 2 months and is now being released in Kelowna after only serving 6.5 years in prison? And what I am doing about these crimes and injustices?? Nada, I’m afraid.
Related to this, I am conflicted by two quotes:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” ~Helen Keller
I just wish the guy who witnessed the abuse 10 years ago had read that first quote. Anyways, in an attempt to make myself feel better about making a positive contribution to the world, I think back to a speech that I recently watched by the Dalai Lama called “Compassion in Emptiness”. After reading about him (and a devout reader of his quotes), I expected to be blown away by seeing him “live”.
But, he is just a simple man with a simple philosophy of kindness. The video showed that he isn’t a superhero, but really just a regular person who speaks about his beliefs. When you think about it, what does his Holiness really do? He is a charismatic speaker with a clear message and yet he is influencing the world. He doesn’t really “do” anything. He is simply living a peaceful life and encouraging others to practice compassion.
Think about someone you deeply admire – what do they really do that is so spectacular? It’s usually quite simple. We do not need to turn the world on its head, we just have to seek happiness, inner peace and demonstrate kindness and compassion.
After the passing of Steve Jobs, millions of people who had never met him, mourned him. While he is highly regarded for his inventions and technological advancements, there isn’t much to be said for his interpersonal relationships (read Malcolm Gladwell’s article here). So while he may have revolutionized our gadget world (yes, he changed the world), but does the invention of the iPod (which I adore) really make a positive difference in our lives? Are we are better society? Are we kinder and more caring because of Apple creations?
So, I’m thinking this whole blog is really an argument to convince myself that it’s okay that I might not revolutionize education or create a global utopia (aka world peace), but that trying to live a good life and help people is “good enough”. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop striving for more, but in an effort to have inner peace, I can be okay with not being a revolutionary figure in the world’s history and settle for just trying to being a happy and healthy person who practices kindness and compassion.
And at the bare minimum, the Dalai Lama advises this: “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”
Finally, a moment of gratitude for those that have served for our country.
The First Two Minute Silence in London (11 November 1919) was reported in the Manchester Guardian on 12 November 1919:
The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect. The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition. Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still … The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain … And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.
Very proud to say that all these years later, we still have the same reverence as the first moment of silence on Remembrance Day. Yes, even here in sunny Santo Domingo, this Canadian is wearing her poppy and thinking of the sacrifices made by others (and missing my grandpa).