Ease One Life the Aching

From Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson (1982 Crown Publishers)
I absolutely adore the sentiment behind this brief untitled poem.  It is a personal philosophy that I can embrace heartily and in just about every facet of my life.  It is as true today as when Emily penned it back in 1864.

I used to worry so much about the Big Things that were outside of my control.  Events in the past.  Projections for the future.  Racial injustice, habitat loss, politics, death, gender discrimination, peace, foreign policy, violence, the news.  I used to let them really weigh me down, plague me.  I would feel overwhelmed and, often, disheartened, about the world and my place in it.  It would keep me up at night as a child.

But.  I can't save the world singlehandedly.  No one can.

What I CAN do though is build up the world with goodness all around me.  I can lend a helping hand to my neighbors, friends, and community.  It starts with me.

I can volunteer with groups working on issues that are close to my heart, like the Montana Wilderness Association.  I can support the live music scene and local artists.  I can shop local, Montana-made, US grown.  I can help strangers catch a dog wandering back and forth through traffic on Poly. I can share when I have an abundance.  I can write letters to the editor.  I can speak up in conversation when I don't agree.  I can reduce my plastic footprint and buy in bulk whenever possible. I can take in cats when they need a new home.  I can offer help and guidance to new sewing and crafting enthusiasts.  I can send birthday cards and check on sick friends and relatives.  I can eat a vegetarian/vegan diet.  I can call my political representatives and tell them what issues matter most to me.  I can donate to local charities.  I can recycle and compost.  I can be supportive friend.  I can catch the spider and let it go outside.  I can try to put the robin back in her nest.

These things will not change the world in a big, dramatic way.  But, it is enough for me.

Life is made up of the little things.  The decisions we make and the priorities we hold are shaping our shared experience on this planet.  Everyone has their unique strengths and gifts to offer.  It takes all kinds.   Do your thing and make it count.   And maybe, just maybe, well all end up living, working, and breathing in an even more beautiful (fair, clean, smart, fun, inspiring, creative) world.


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