Saturday, September 5, 2009

Help and the Crazy Person (me)

Sometimes I have this feeling that I know what I'm doing and where I'm headed in life. That feeling is rare and never lasts long. It's as though I glimpse it and then something happens and I lose focus and I can never piece it back together. Like I wrote it down on a crumpled wad of paper and then opened the paper up, smoothed it out, and try to figure out what it said. I don't know why I feel like this. It should be simple enough. I'm a wife and a mom and a full-time employee and a friend and lots of other things. Shouldn't that be enough?

Well, it's not. It's not enough to just be those things. I want to do something else. I want to know that something I did in my life made a difference for at least a few people, as cliche' as that sounds. This is absolutely not about being famous. I have no desire to have people in my business or to be on television or in the newspaper. It's more about me and the way I feel about myself and my own life.

When I hear about someone with a need, I have an impulse to do something, anything, to help out. For example, this week I heard that the cousin of a friend of a friend was in a terrible car accident. She was badly injured and her husband was killed. Their 2-year-old son was unharmed. Because they were traveling to visit family for an extended time they had all their personal belongings with them. The car went up in flames and they lost all their clothes. I went through all my 2T and 3T clothes bins to see what I could spare for the son, and then when I didn't find a lot there (as those are the sizes Owen is wearing now so I kind of need some of them), I went out sale-and-clearance rack shopping. I'm not saying I'm a great person for doing this. I'm just using this as an example of this issue I have. I don't even know these people and there is nothing at all I can do to ease the pain of what happened. But giving some decent clothes to that little boy was some action I could take that could make the circumstance of losing all their clothes a little more manageable.

The problem is that most people have some kind of need and I certainly can't help every person. And sometimes I question the kind of help I provide, because while it is a loving or kind thing to do, it is also driven in part by impulse and in part by guilt over that person being in such a terrible circumstance while I know my circumstances are not as bad. I envy people who focus on helping the homeless or on feeding the poor or on working with at-risk youth. They have found their niche. Their purpose. They have their way of making a difference right there in front of them all the time. I wish I had that.

On a sort of side note, this compulsion is not about 'saving' anyone. I know that I cannot save people from their circumstances or their choices or their back luck. I am (unfortunately) not a billionaire philanthropist, a psychiatrist, or a magician. It really is just about helping. Doing what is within my means and resources to do. I know that sometimes the best way to help is to just let someone work something out on their own or to step back and let better qualified people assist.

That said, I still wish I had one or two areas on which to focus. Something that was clearly what I was meant to do or meant to help with. Maybe I need someone to help me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I can so relate. Does the little boy wear a size 2T, I should still have 2T's, if not I have a ton of 3T's. That is so awful. I plan to go thru AJ's things this weekend...think she could still use more clothes? I'd rather give them to someone that really has a need.