I read a very thought provoking blog today written by a man named Darrel. It is here: http://thingsiknowabout.blogspot.com/2009/07/to-be-or-not-to-be-does-it-matter.html At the end of the blog Darrel asks the question "Have I influenced anyone's Life?" Darrel's question inspired much soul searching in me. I am always questioning myself about does life matter, do I matter and what is the point of my life. Questions that are quite poignant to people with mental illness I think. Darrel mentioned in his blog entry that whether people smile or frown at him can make a difference to how he feels and who he is. Do we really have that much power?...do I have that much power? Insignificant little me?
I always thought it would be great to be remembered for some monumental achievement like finding a cure for cancer, winning a Pulitzer prize, inventing something that helps mankind...but maybe, just maybe it is the little things in life that matter the most?
I like to think I have had some influence on my family, friends, my immediate circle. I have no children but I have 8 nieces and nephews and have been a part of their lives. I see parts of me in all of them. They all have a great sense of humour, are quick to laugh, are caring, thoughtful and are all round good people. Could I have contributed to that in some little way? I would like to think so. I would like to think that I have lived my life in a way that could be an example to my younger relatives. I have tried to impart the little wisdoms about life I have picked up along the way. I hope I have helped them become loving people as much as they have helped me learn to love. I have most definitely learned from all of them. I hope they have learned as much from me as I have from all of them. They matter a lot to me so just maybe I matter to them as well?
I am blessed with wonderful friends, the best a person could ask for. I tell people this all the time...a few people have said to me you have to be a great friend to get great friends. I would hate to let my friends down or disappoint them in any way. They have shown me what a wonderful friend looks like. I look up to them and have learned from them. My friends most certainly have influenced the person I have become...just maybe they get the same from me in return?
Darrel mentions in his blog being influenced by strangers. I have been affected by strangers...a sympathetic smile, a compliment, help in a time of need, people reading what I write, listening to what I have to say. Last week a lady behind me in line at the store gave me 3 cents so I wouldn't have to break a larger bill. A simple kindness but it meant the world to me that a stranger would help me out for no reason other than their desire to be a kind person. Also last week a little boy ran back to hold the door for me and the other day a stranger watched me head into the mental health clinic and offered me a beautiful and encouraging smile...and that was just last week. Many a time a complete stranger has restored my faith in mankind. Do I wield that kind of power? Did I have an impact on the man in the wheelchair that I helped when he was stuck?, on the woman whose child held the door for me when I told her how wonderful it was to see such a well mannered and caring child?, to the little boy in Africa that I sponsored?, to the friend I lent some money too? Could my seemingly inconsequential acts of kindness influence others the way their little kindnesses influence me?
I have learned so much from people with mental illnesses like my own. I have learned from people who have shared that they too struggle with mental illness. I have learned in person from talking with these people but have also learned through bipolar websites, blogs, email with other folks who struggle and also from caring doctors and counsellors who have helped me in my time of need. I truly believe that people with bipolar and other mental illnesses are some of the funniest, most compassionate, caring and vibrant people I know. I try to educate people about mental illness, try to offer others hope even when I don't feel much myself, try to help others in their time of need. Could I have influenced someone the way they have influenced me?
So Darrel your blog entry has influenced me...IT MATTERS! It reminds me of a quote that I once thought was trite: "“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” It is becoming less trite to me by the moment and making me realize that we may be only one person but we all matter and all have something to share. We influence others as much as they influence us. So the point to all my rhetoric is yes I think I may matter. And you all matter, probably more than you will ever realize. Try to remember that on the darkest of days.
Someone needs you.
And to Darrel, thanks for the heads up that we can influence others and for the thought provoking blog entry.