The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death. Pink Floyd
Okay, that sounds kind of depressing, true though it may be. And for a few decades, that lyric sort of summed up my feelings about birthdays. But, as I wrote here one year ago, I’ve come to terms with getting older, and choose to concentrate on what I do in the small (hopefully not too small) amount of time left to me. And I still think it’s a clever lyric. One thing that happens when as you age is that you come to realize that there are a lot more things that you don’t know than there are things that do know. But still, you are able to fancy yourself to be more knowledgeable than those youngsters who know everything. The challenge is not to convince those kids that you’re smarter than they are, but that they are dumber than you are. A massive chalenge, to be sure. Nobody could ever convince me that I didn’t know it all. Nobody except me. Nevertheless, I, at this point in my existence, am compelled to share some of the few things that I have come to believe that I do know.
Simple Fact of Life: If you want to make a difference, you only have one lifetime in which to do so.
Okay, for Buddhists, not so simple. But for the rest of us …
What I wanted to talk about was how to make some kind of difference. Near as I can determine, the best, easiest way is to simply speak your mind. Are you happy with the way things are going? If you are, remember that there are plenty of folks who aren’t. They’re speaking up, trying to change the way things are. And if you’re not happy, well, do I really need to spell out what you should be doing? Take a stand. Make a difference.
Ah, yes. I can read your thoughts as surely as your are reading these words. “But Chief, who am I? Who will pay any attention to me? Who will I make a difference for?” The answer is, you will make a difference for you. That’s because your thoughts are important; your words matter. Simply putting them out there for the world to read will be transformational, at least for your attitude. Don’t concern yourself with how many people will know about them. You will know. That makes a diference.
But when you realize the value of your opinions, and decide it’s time to share them, please don’t be “that guy.” You know who those guys are. The people who think that they can make a difference by littering their friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds with a constant stream of articles full of words written by other people; a steady barrage of videos containing words spoken by someone that’s not you. “That guy” is not making a difference, at least not to me, and probably not to himself. I want to read your thoughts. When I see “that guy’s” posts, I seldom look at the linked article, just the title and headline. However, I do normally read his comments. His thoughts. But, of course, lest you think that I’m being too harsh, I am willing to make an exception for those of you who want to litter the cyber-world with this article. See, I’m a nice guy, after all.
“But Chief, why should I bother? Who will read what I write?” Well, I will. Send it to me and I’ll at the very least read what you wrote. And I may even comment on how brilliant you are. Or how crazy. But I will never say that your words are worthless, no matter how much I may disagree with them. The most valuable words are the ones that tell me something that I didn’t know. But words that stroke my ego by reinforcing what I already thought are neat also. And trust me, there are plenty of others out there that think like that. You just can’t hardly go wrong when you share your own thoughts.
“But Chief, I’m not a great writer. Why would anyone want to read what I write?” Well, you may not be the best wordsmith on the planet, but that doesn’t really matter. I mean, let’s face it, this ain’t Shakespeare, but we’re now 735 words into it, and you’re still reading. Need I say more? (Don’t worry, just a couple more thoughts, and I’ll let you go.)
“But Chief, I can barely type. How can I express my thoughts? It would take forever.” Well, you don’t even want to know how long this is taking me to write. But I’m doing it. But if it’s too much for you, there are other ways to share your thoughts. Use your voice. You don’t have to sound like Don Lafontaine (1940-2008. “The Voice” from all those movie trailers), or be as eloquent as Barack Obama (with teleprompter, of course), to make your thoughts known. Don’t believe me? Just go here for proof positive of that. You can do it. You merely have to have the passion for it.
So there, I’ve expressed my thoughts. I’ve made a difference, at least to me. I feel better.
So happy birthday to me. When I get my cake, I’ll feel much better.
Take your passion, and make it happen Irene Cara, from Flashdance