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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Drop By Drop

When I was in South Africa, we passed by a lot of slums and at one point I had a little bit of a breakdown.  I could see so much suffering that I couldn't see how I could possibly make a difference. 

Before I went to South Africa I believed that I could change the world - all by myself.  I was still a teenager and apparently, quite the idealist.  That trip changed me.  I learnt that I cannot change the world (for better that know, end suffering etc).  Even if I was the most amazing person on the planet I wouldn't be able to do that (even Mother Theresa didn't pull it off).  I am just one person.

And that realisation was what led me to my mini breakdown.  I got to the point where I didn't see a point.  If I couldn't make a difference, why even bother trying.  Luckily, the woman who organised the trip, taught me what I live by today.  I may only be one drop of water.  That one drop of water might not make much of a difference (though, now that I think about it, a drop of water could make a huge difference to someone who is very thirsty!) but with lots of drops, we can create an ocean of change.  When people come together, it can literally change the world.

That woman has had a huge impact on my life, even though I've never seen her since that trip 6 years ago.  By teaching me to accept that I can't change the world on my own, she led me to not giving up.  Today, I still believe the drop in the ocean theory, but I also believe it in an even simpler form. 

Lately I have been feeling lost and pointless.  I've let myself believe that I am useless because I can't leave the flat - I'm determined not to let this thinking continue.  Not only am I a drop, but everything I do is a drop in my life.  Every little thing I do adds up to create the whole picture.  So I keep trying, even if the only drop I can produce one day is a smile for my boyfriend - I am changing things.  Every drop of kindness makes a difference.  So from now on I'm going to remember to do something every day in my efforts to change the world, whether it be writing a letter to someone, a phone call, a facebook message, working on my secret project or writing a blog post.  I can make a difference (a difference to one person's day is still a difference) and so can you.

(By the way, I went to South Africa with a few other students at my high school to visit schools there and volunteer our time at an orphanage for HIV+ children. - Just in case you were curious).

1 comment:

Christine Murray said...

I completely agree. I've had similar experiences to you - I've seen orphanages and poverty in Belarus and Romania. I have fibromyalgia and go through periods where leaving the house is difficult. When you link your own pain to the pain of the world, it's difficult to keep going.

But you're right. We're part of something bigger than ourselves, and that's what we have to hold on to in the dark times, no matter how difficult it seems.

Great post, Tamara.