I am but one person; what can I do? The answer is always the same: I can do something. It doesn’t have to be much. It only needs to be done with love and it becomes great, no matter how small it seems to me. Ours is not to question the size or value of our individual contributions. Our task in life is simply to give from the essence of who we are. Each gift is unique and valuable, and each adds a necessary piece to the whole.
To understand the value and power of each person in the context of collective thoughts and actions, pretend for a moment that we humans are snowflakes. We’re part of the first snow of winter drifting gently out of a quiet sky, touching our neighbors as we whirl and spin to earth. Numbering in the millions, we fall one by one by one. As we fall, we magnify one another until we blot out the sky.
The pioneers, the first flakes to fall, land on soil that is warm and they melt, disappearing without an apparent trace—gone, lost. But are they really lost? Have they really had no effect? No, they’re not lost. Yes, they’ve had an effect. Each flake that landed on the soil, only to melt and disappear, has given its coolness to the soil until, after enough flakes have landed and melted, the temperature of the soil drops.
Finally, because of the cumulative effect of all the flakes that have gone before, the soil has cooled enough for us—you and me—to survive as we land, and still the flakes fall one by one by one. It snows all night, and by morning, a glittering, transformed world greets the rising sun. As far as the eye can see is a world of winter white—one snowflake at a time—as we add our collective beauty to the wonder of the Universe.
From where I stand, I see a multitude of people, each with a gift to give, one that is unique and priceless in and to our world. British philosopher James Allen was speaking of these gifts when he wrote:
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without. (James Allen. 1981. As a Man Thinketh. Grosset & Dunlap, New York, NY.)
It’s our opportunity in life to give the gift of our love, talent, and skill rather than to judge the effects of our giving. No one’s gift is better, more splendid, or more important than anyone else’s. They’re only different. And each is necessary to the wholeness of the world. Like the flowers on a tree, if one falls, the tree is to that degree diminished of its beauty. Omit one person’s gift, and the potential for the world remains a fond imagining.
Series on Resistance to Change:
Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.