Each day we live our lives, we leave a footprint of some kind. We leave an impression of some kind in many of our interactions, or sometimes none. Sometimes we’re just living life on autopilot, pre-occupied with our thoughts or our concerns, and not really paying attention at all.
I’ve just gotten done reading two books on Irena Sendler. (“Irena’s Children” “Life in a Jar” ) I had never heard of her either, so if you haven’t, you’re not alone. This woman was a social worker in Warsaw Poland during World War II. It was clear, she couldn’t do much to save many adults, but she gradually built a crew of trustable acquaintances that saved 2500 jewish children. Many of them are older now, and a number of them don’t know about their pasts. Records were dangerous to keep. Many in her network were murdered for participating. Following the German occupation, Poland was occupied by Communist Russia. Much of the same behavior as far as anti-semitism and punishment for thinking differently still went on. Those who resisted the Germans were also considered criminals by the Communist Russian regime. So many hidden jews continued to live their new lives and it wasn’t safe to talk about. Eventually Poland became free of Russia, and some high school girls in Kansas discovered a paragraph about Irena Sendler in a rare historical volume, and did their history project on her. Their writing to a number of places eventually helped them unearth the whole story about Irena, and now there are many history books about her. Irena says she did what she did because she had to listen to her heart.
Each of us does leave a footprint in what we do, even if we’re not aware. And every day becomes an opportunity to leave a different kind of footprint. There are days life is too hard or we’re too upset to try, but there’s other days that are mercilessly routine and uneventful, and those days can become opportunities to make them much more meaningful and contribute much more to the world. Most of us will never come close to accomplishing anything like Irena did, but there are small things we can do each day to make our lives and others’ better.
We’ve had some rough political times lately (yeah, an understatement), yet by joining some group email and contacts, I get daily reminders both of the things we need to work on in our world, and reminders of what our collaborative protects have accomplished. It helps me be grateful for the many numbers of unknown people out there who also take a stance. I often wear my “Nasty Women don’t stop fighting” or “Founding Member of the Persisterhood” T shirts, and I love how many people in stores comment on how they like them. Sometimes walking down the street someone hollers out to be and gives me the “power” sign. It starles me sometimes! I’ve forgotten what I’m wearing. But taking a stand and publicizing it lets others who agree with me connect with me, as this blog does. Connecting with each other is powerful stuff. When we do, we accomplish something together, and I thank all of you who take a few minutes here and there to do or say something to make the world a better place. You remind me of just how wonderful most of us are.
Sometimes I just decide this will be a day I will try to give to others in some way. I’m in a good place mentally and I can offer out. I try to be friendly with the new person in yoga class. I reach out with a patient who hasn’t been in lately, or whom I know was in the hospital, and just say “hi”. I try to spend an extra moment here and there being a little kinder. If you want to leave a kinder footprint, the best gift you can ever give someone else is to acknowledge what they’re doing. A little validation can be a magnificent gift. I know I will never find peace in my conflicted relations with my parents, but my precious cousin, commenting as she does acknowledging how hard I work to find peace in the relationships, goes a long way. It means alot to me.
Rub your hands together back and forth until you can feel the heat you build up in your hands. Now put your warm hands over your heart. Lead your life today from this warm place.
There are many questions we will never answer. There are bad things that happen for no reason. But I know that if I spend as many days as I can trying to leave a positive footprint, there’s no stopping how much each of us can change the world.