Making a Difference

The first time I read each new LYL prompt, I instantly feel nervous and hesitant. These are big questions: what makes you angry, what’s your passion, what are you proud of. For someone who likes to stay in the background and just go with the flow, these are things I tend not to dwell on too much.

But they are important questions. And the fact that I tend not to look too deeply is probably one reason I’m still doing the same thing I’ve always done. How can I figure out what I want to do if I’m unwilling to address these questions?

Today’s question is a biggie: What difference do I want to make? I edit papers that few people other than me ever read. These papers often have things of value to say, but I honestly don’t know who reads them. So even though I help the authors convey their meaning clearly and coherently, am I really making a difference? And does it really matter if I insert a comma or delete a comma or spell out a number or use numerals?

These not-really-existential-ish questions have been plaguing me lately. Effective communication is important, and I’m glad I can help. But it’s not really my passion. (Though don’t get me started on double spaces vs. single spaces after punctuation. That is apparently something I am vehemently passionate about. One. Space. Only!)

But what is my passion? How do I want to make a mark on this world?

There are so many ways. I have no idea how to go about any of these, but here’s what I want.

  • I want to help alleviate conflict and tension on the local level. I want to help all sides see their common ground rather than focusing on all the hatred, anger, and negativity.
  • I want to help families find that time in their busy lives to come together and create good, healthy meals that they can all enjoy … without all the preservatives and fillers and other crap that goes into fast food, prepackaged products, and junk.
  • I want to encourage children to focus on their strengths and find their own passion to help them love learning. Not every child can excel in every subject, and it’s ridiculous that we expect them to. Instead, if we focus on what they love and what they are good at and what they are interested in, we can begin to build a society that works so much better together.
  • I want to work to keep our outdoors clean and pristine for future generations to enjoy–through trail maintenance, raising funds/awareness for open space, using less packaging to keep the trash we put back into the world at a minimum, and on and on.
  • I want to help others learn how to practice meditation, breathing, mindfulness, prayer, or whatever they want to call it or whatever calls to them in order to ease the stress and tension in their lives.

I know I can’t do all these things … or not all of them all the time. But they are what interest me. And they all seem to go back to calming the souls, the minds, the tensions in the world, whether through deep breathing, getting outside, learning more, or just sharing laughter over a hearty bowl of soup.

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