Finding/seeking/pointing out and choosing the good, that is.
Nothing I've seen in writing recently has broken down this idea better than what I read this morning at OK, Fine, Dammit. She's a writer after my own heart, with the kind of writing style that keeps you interested, and keeps you wanting to know when she'll be posting again. Today she posted a beautiful, much-needed piece that we could all stand to read about twice a day, every day. With her permission (thanks, Maggie!) I am reposting it here for you to enjoy (and pass on), and I hope you'll visit her blog and let her know what it means to you, too. Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers.
From "OK, Fine, Dammit", I give you "What Are You Contributing With All That Hate?"
A dancer does this thing called spotting. She picks a point in the distance and fixes her gaze upon it, and as her body pirouettes she tries to never lose sight of that spot. She spins but her head stays steady, waiting until the last possible moment to whip itself around and return again to start. It’s the only way to perform that magical endless cyclone without making herself sick.
I am neck deep in writing projects right now but I’m not dizzy. I am reveling in my children, often literally spinning, but I am always, always spotting. I morph from writer to wife to mother to taxi driver to maid to cook to praying mantis or lioness twins or whichever Littlest Petshop character I’m relegated to in the constant bouts of imaginary play, and it’s the hardest thing and the greatest thing all at once but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am morbidly busy but I know when to quit, too, and most of all I know that I don’t have time for anything that doesn’t give back in some way to the amazing people I see all around me. I don’t have time for drama and bullshit.
I’ve got a brother who teaches English to Somali high-schoolers while his law-school wife works 12-hour days helping the ones our system fails. I’ve got another brother who builds beautiful things with his hands while helping raise two daughters he inherited. I’ve got an aunt who is saving children one at a time when no one else can and an uncle who is churning out self-made CD’s filled with incredible lyrics and vocals and instruments all performed by him including the harmonica he taught himself to play mere weeks ago — oh, and he wins contests for his political cartoons in his spare time. I’ve got a cousin who can make magic out of any instrument he touches and now he’s passing those gifts along to children, another cousin who single-handedly managed to raise 70 donated bicycles for Cambodians, and yet another cousin who took a dream and cracked it wide open and stood in the fire of all that came with it, all for that love. And I’ve told you all about my mom, and there are countless more examples all around me. All around you, too, I bet. Look at what she is doing for flood victims, look at what he has done in the south. Look at the beauty this dad and his amazing son are putting out into the world every damn day. In less than a week we will either have our first man of color or our first female in the highest office in the land, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. If you feel a subtle change in the air each morning, if things smell a little better or shine a little brighter it’s because there are people who are working hard to contribute something to this world for all of us to share. That’s as it should be.
And that’s why it’s so hard for me to understand the rest of you. No, not 99% of the people reading this, but you. You out there with your ugly and your menace and your hate like slick black sludge.
Whether you are writing dirty campaign ads or forwarding hateful emails, whether you are commenting anonymously on blogs or creating entire websites designed to attack other bloggers, whether you are secretly reading other people’s words only to dissect and ridicule them, I want you to ask yourself — what are you contributing? What have you got to show for yourself? Where are your gifts to the world? What will your obituary say?
The thing I understand least of all is how you have the time for this. Do you not have jobs or families, commitments or goals? Do you not have friends? Don’t you get tired? Aren’t you getting dizzy? Aren’t the fumes from your toxic rage poisoning you bit by bit every day? Don’t you want to be someone better than this?
I forgive you. I wish for you peace, and love, and the innate, genuine desire to want others to succeed, because that is such a gift. Because we all benefit from that, even you. Especially you.
This life is too short and too precious to waste a single moment of it tearing other people down, don’t you see? You are blowing your only shot, but there’s still time to change. Find your unique gifts and imagine them a sparkling emerald in the distance, and stare them down. Focus on them – spot — and spin and spin and spin.