In the movie Pay It Forward a fictional social studies teacher gives an assignment to his junior high class to think of an idea to change the world for the better. Then put it in action.
One student passionately contrives a plan of paying forward good deeds for 3 other people. Choose the people do the good deeds. The story unfolds his actions which not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but also starts a wave of human kindness that grows into a national movement to change the world.
A feel good movie that stirs in everyone who watches it the good intentions to put the concept into practice. It’s exciting to think that a small act on our part can have big and far reaching impact. But for many that intention just fizzles – it gets parked along with the other “someday” to-dos. That’s how it used to be for me. But I’ve learned something.
Here is something that I have sought, received and yet cannot measure – it’s validation. We seek it in many areas of life. We long for our parents, business partners, friends, colleagues and even our kids to say – “You matter!”
Men and women of great minds and those of absolutely average minds have all wrestled with the same question, ‘do I matter’? Sadly the answer to this question and the wrestling to the answer have brought some people to a state of desperation and depression. I reflect on my own parents and grandparents wondering what difference did they make? What difference will I make? Where’s the hope for this part of our story?
If you have been to an art gallery, museum or places of historical significance you will often discover the stories of the average person doing extraordinary things. It’s only from the perspective of time that we know if, the decisions we make and the action we take, make a difference to others. Perhaps these “others” are yet unborn. We cannot realize ALL the implications our decisions and actions in the moment. Only in the future, do we gain perspective but sometimes we never know.