Casual Friday – Do We Matter?

110411_75159_0In 2002 I was a single parent, hurting, lonely, visiting Winnipeg, the city of my childhood. Alone.
I was at a conference downtown but felt a nostalgic need to drive for an hour in traffic to go back and remember. So there I was, driving down a road I had walked hundreds of times, decades ago. I had never been back. It was the time, elementary school, when everything was possible and I knew I was going to be significant.
Now years later, looking back on a shattered life and broken dreams, I drove back in time to my old elementary school. It was much as I had remembered it, only a great deal smaller. I remembered it as a happy place, a loud adventure full of girls and bullies and games and sports. But now, so many years later, I was back walking down empty hallways and bad preteen crayon art. I wasn’t sure why I was there but for some reason was drawn down those hallways, looking like a middle-aged creeper with too much time on his hands.
As I passed the trophy case I was struck by it’s emptiness. Someone had obviously been cleaning out the old pictures, painting and rearranging. Even today I still wonder if it really happened and still do not completely understand it’s meaning, if there even is one.
You might be able to guess what was in that window, it unfolded like a movie – There was only one photo in that display case that day – yellowed by age, bad haircuts and knobby knees. There I was, grade six volleyball team. Only one picture in that case, twenty or more years later. Why? It was a one in a million, a ridiculous proposition, a hollywood story.
I still don’t know why, or even if there is a why. I only know I was feeling alone one day, insignificant and small. And in the midst of that insecurity there was a gift, a single moment out of time and a reminder that I mattered. hundreds of teams, dozens of years, an old picture that could not fit in a small display case needed by this years teams. A ten foot picture frame with only one picture…
It is easy to believe we don’t matter in a world of superstars and the super rich. When we die will anyone remember us, mourn us? Many of us, as we grow older, ponder what legacy we will leave, if any. Many become discouraged by the brevity and seeming meaningless of life.
Do we matter?
I am inspired by the story of Rosa Parks, an average nobody who changed her world because she “was tired of giving in to white people.” Like many of us I get tired of hearing of yet another person born in privilege being noticed just because their family or circumstance gave them a platform. Rosa showed us that even a regular person can leave a powerful legacy if they live their life with integrity and purpose.
This spring I am spending a few weeks with my father editing his memoirs while basking in the sunshine. He too has left a powerful legacy of perseverance and integrity for the following generations though being an orphan who was not given many breaks in life. He may not ever be world famous but he is living proof that you don’t have to have a Harvard degree or reality television series to impact the lives of people in your world.
Do we matter?
Yes you do. Don’t settle for a mediocre life.
As Tony Campolo is fond of saying, “Most of us are tiptoeing through life so we can reach death safely. We grew up praying, “If I should die before I wake. Maybe we should be praying, “If I should wake before I die. . . .” Life can get away from you.

5 thoughts on “Casual Friday – Do We Matter?

  1. I loved this blog! My favorite stories are the ones where ordinary people become extraordinary because of the lives they’ve lived and the things they’ve overcome. We all have the ability to make a difference. That’s why my own ‘moniker’ is No Ordinary Joy :).

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