What you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.
Doing the insignificant, the indulgent, the beyond the rules & expectations, the whatever the hell it is is important, not because it is perfect and big but because it provides a ripple which contributes you to the world.
This is hard for me to remember, but then it is hard for anyone to remember.
My sister’s friend has an 88 year old father who has been in and out of the hospital in the last year. Finally back at home, with full time live in care, he fell and went to the hospital where they found a brain bleed. He is stable and at his age they are not going to do any big interventions, but it makes his daughter a bit crazy.
She knows that all they can do is delay the inevitable, knows how every human life has an ending. She knows that she doesn’t have the control to make everything better or even make it good. Nothing she achieves will ever be perfect, nothing will ever come without a cost and a downside. He will never be young, fit and independent again, you know, like when he was 85.
But everyday for a year now, she has fought to for his quality of life, fought to give him one more good day. He isn’t ready to go, even if he does chafe at the limits he now faces, the help he needs to do even simple things.
It was important for me to affirm to her that she what she is doing may seem insignificant or even futile, but it is most important that she do it. This is how we face our own fears and blocks so we can move beyond them.
Human lives are defined by the fights we choose to engage.
The most essential of those fights are contained in our relationships: how do we struggle to make those we love better people? And how does that goal demand that we ourselves become a better person in the process?
What we do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that we do it, even if it means entering a fight that we know we cannot finally win. It is the battles that count, the seeds we sow, the moments we give to other people, the way that our energy adds to the ripples.
The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
— Nelson Henderson
There are so many reasons to decide that our contribution just isn’t that important, that doing the hard work of helping create better just has no real payoff, so it isn’t worth the effort. We live in a world that finds it hard to value anything that seems detailed, hard and without a simple benefit, a world that believes shiny results are more important than the effort to do the right thing.
Holding on to the reasons that what we do, even the small things we do, are important can be very hard. The way you do anything is the way you do everything, so becoming integrated, consistent and authentic is becoming better, even when those details seem like too much work for the benefit.
I know how hard it is to be affirmed in the hard choices we make to do what we believe to be right. That’s why I deliberately and actively validated and venerated the work my sister’s friend is doing, work that I know from experience is hard for others to value. Taking care of an elder is not something most people want to talk about, the presence of death being all too close, but being there to elevate life, even the end of it, is powerfully important.
When you have danced with the demons, well, it becomes hard to ever be innocent again. It makes you a better person, but it also makes you a different person, holding knowledge and experience that others are still keeping at a distance.
The significance of our choices makes them important, even when others don’t understand or value them. They may seem unimportant in the social conventions, but we do them because, on some level, we understand the power of them, even in the face of being diminished, erased and cast aside.
Someone has to be the crackpot, the shit cleaner, the carer, and we know that work falls to us, that it is our damn calling.
I was happy to be able to affirm someone doing this impossible work, just the way I did with others in my caregivers support group, the one the facilitator barred me from because I wasn’t letting people believe that somehow, it all would be okay.
Somebody had to be the power femme/drag mom/trans theologian, and I guess it was me. What I have done may seem insignificant, but I knew that it was most important that I do it, even if nobody got the joke. Better is important, both in being there to help others do better for one more day and in me finding a way to be better in walking a path just a little bit closer to righteousness, in squeezing the growth and learning out of this human walk.
There are moments, sure, when I wish I could be light enough to have simple chats with people around me, but more often there are moments when I wish other people could meet me where I am, seeing and valuing what the work that I knew to be important.
I know what people want and it is me taking care of them. So many people need so much, so much that they never paid forward. Their commitment to better is weak, choosing comfort over struggle.
Better is important.
I honour those who fight for better, even if other people think that their work is insignificant. I know that they, bless their hearts, are important.