Friday, November 29, 2013

Improving the World

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
Anne Frank

I was listening to someone talk about service to others today. Every time I hear that, I think about how I should be volunteering at a homeless shelter or giving of my time in a manner that requires blood, sweat and tears for the benefit of others. And frankly? I don't really do that. So when I hear sermons or talks about how we should be serving people, I usually hang my head in shame.

But then he went on to explain how service to others can be random acts of kindness: opening the door for someone behind us, smiling at a stranger sitting across from us at a restaurant, giving our spot in line to the gentleman behind us at the grocery store, etc. And then I felt a little lighter because, well, I do those things sometimes. 

I was looking out my window today and noticed that evidently my dog has been too. It is filled with nose prints and licks and all kinds of his smudges so that I can barely see out. It makes the outside world barely visible--swirls of green and brown that blend into a whole lot of chaotic. And sometimes I think life is like that. Sometimes we put life into little boxes and see ourselves and others through these lens that are skewed. We forget that they too do random acts of kindness; we forget that we ourselves serve once in awhile. Life isn't all about black and white and right and wrong and principle and balance and Republican and Democrat. Everybody breathes; everybody struggles; everybody, hopefully, laughs sometimes. And so, since we're all human and we're all on this planet together, we need to give each other a break--and that includes ourselves--and just let go and live.

Last night my sister, my mom, 7 kids and I went to the gym to play "Piggy Wants a Signal", a game that our kids have played for years. The kids are growing up as the oldest are 21 now, but they were appeasing Jace as he was desperate to play, so off we went for three rounds in a gym that doesn't have too many hiding spots for his sake. Tami and I always hide together and then, once we're caught, never try to get off base, but at least we give it a go the first time. And we refuse to be "it". Of course, they never even ask us to be "it" so I guess it's a given, and that's perfectly fine. It must come with the territory of being token players. Anyway, so as we're playing Jace would run and hide and then as the "it" person is going around the gym searching for people, he would scream and yell, giving himself away. And he's eleven. Then once he was found and was on base, he would constantly run and try to hide again, louder than a rhinoceros, giving himself away every time--even though he didn't have a signal. "Jace!" I finally said, exasperated. "You can't run without a signal! And stop screaming all the time!" 

"Leave him alone," my sister said quietly. "We're here for him anyway. Let him play however he wants to play." She's kind of like that--she just wants the kids to have a good time. So Tami? She chose service. Me? Not so much.

And of course, Jace continued to scream and run and get out and get found...but no matter. He had fun. And he never played by the rules.

And though he drove me a little crazy, I'm glad he had fun.

So today? I want to remember to breathe a little easier. I want to remember to let go. The house doesn't always have to be picked up. Smudges on the window aren't that important (honestly, that apparently isn't too big of a deal in my house as there are smudges on my window more often than not); I want to choose random acts of kindness and not worry so much about the rules.

Today I will choose to improve the world.

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