There is something about a good story that makes me smile. Whether it is little Timmy being rescued from a well, or a child going out of their way to help, good stories do me good. What I love are people that do the deeds, without any expectation. Without any need for praise.
This week I read an article on the popular website LinkedIn, which began with a question. Are you really as good as you think you are? What followed was a treatise on how self-confidence, if not objective, was pathological.
It made me think. While I am trying to write every week in order to allow others to feel more confident, this article warned about the hidden dangers of over confidence.
It was no surprise to learn that the article had been written by the founder of a marketing firm. Also, it was no surprise that the main point of the article was that testing and research needed to be done before conducting advertising campaigns. While the author left room for things like intuition, research was king. In that case, I can see his point.
But what about our vision of ourselves? What about believing we are more than what we have become? Spiritual gurus say things like, “get rid of ego”. Popular book writers and speakers speak on our being gods. There simply has to be middle ground.
Would we mistake confidence for arrogance? Would we confuse courage with insanity? Nothing in this life is anything other than what we make it out to be. Nothing.
What some see as a blessing, another sees as a curse. What some see as luxury, others see as slumming. Everything is determined by our perspective. Your perspective is no better than mine and my perspective is no better than yours.
One of the tragedies of religion, self-help wannabes, and even corporations developing cultures, is this. Rather than change the way we think, they settle for changing what we think. Changing what we think is easy and requires nothing but a decree. Changing how we think is difficult and investment in people over results is paramount.
On the first anniversary of my mother’s death, I began writing articles for this website. She always waited for my “Happy Sunday” posts on Facebook. Jennifer, a friend since childhood, also encouraged me in my writing. Then there was life.
When life came at me sideways, it was easy to handle as I wrote.
Then there were the drawings. For years I used my drawings to “pick up chicks”, as the kids used to say. Then I used them to encourage people I had just met. There may be tens of thousands of my sketches and drawings on refrigerators right now. Eventually, I set up a Facebook page dedicated to short stories and drawings.
There is a video of my aging uncle, recorded in a health facility, reading one of the articles that was included in a book I self published. Though he was battling dementia, he was articulate and chuckled as he read. He and I always talked about things not discussed in traditional Southern Baptist homes. If we shared anything, it was the feeling that the tradition we were born into was not the tradition for which we were designed. If there were two things we shared, it might be Amstel Light.
That was one of my best moments. That was what made me proud on the inside. To have written words that this man read aloud, and in some way, receive his approval. I could have given all of this up after I saw that video, but I kept going.
Somehow, other writers and I have found each other. Somehow, hypnotists, meditation teachers, full time authors, stage comedians, social media experts, and I, have found each other. I still have no goals. I still have no plans. My mission remains changing the world, one smile at a time.
Those smiles may be formed on the faces of the homeless, the billionaires, the powerful, the disenfranchised, or family and friends. We do what we can. We do what we love. Without regard for who it affects in a positive way.
My art and my writings have circled the globe and returned with little extra baggage or souvenirs. It is not about the money, but I am certain the money will come.
Even without A/B testing. Even without a marketing firm. It is true that I am “winging it”, but it is also true that love goes where it will and does what it does. My writing and drawings are only love in forms that can be perceived. I send love in many forms, to many places, every day.
All of this is preface to this next occurrence. I have accounts on Instagram. I have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. As mentioned earlier, I have an account on LinkedIn.
Three weeks ago, I received a message on that platform from a former co-worker. Hey, this is so-and-so, give me a call. I did give him a call and asked the question, “how have you been?”
“Well,” he said, “I am recovering from COVID. I am at home and on oxygen. I was on a ventilator. Before the ventilator, the doctors told me to say goodbye to my family, because it was likely I was not coming off of the ventilator.”
His story is a testament to the human spirit, the divine, and the love of family. His experience and the way he has handled it is miraculous. Whatever has happened to so-and-so, has happened for a reason and so-and-so is excited for possibility.
As I stood in the sun holding the phone close to my ear, he said this.
“When I was in ICU, your posts on LinkedIn got me through the stay. I looked for them. They helped me a lot.”
Once again, I have come to a point where I can give all of this up if I wanted to, but I do not want to. There are more smiles. There are more good stories to come.
Do. Not. Give. Up.
Do what you love. Love what you do. Celebrate the wins and learn from the fails. Life is, at the same time, the easiest of things, and the most difficult of things. Simple and complex. Full of life and full of death. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
And if you think you are better than you are, get there soon. If you believe you are not as good as you are, change your dream. You have always been light. Look for that.