This past week I had the good fortune to fit in a short vacation with girlfriends to visit my sister. This required some air travel, and during one of my layovers, I marveled at the sea of people flowing through just that one concourse of the airport that I was in.
A couple primary thoughts bounced into my head. First, isn’t it rather amazing that we can spend a full day around so many people, and not recognize anyone? To not personally know one face in a crowd? Even in my own “local” airport, there was not a chance meeting, no running into anyone I knew, even though I’ve lived in my area for almost 20 years. There are so very many people beyond our immediate daily scope of interaction who live, work, play, or travel within just a few miles of each of us. And yet we’ll never officially meet.
That led me to think about that expanse of people, of other human beings, some very different from me, some so very similar, I’m sure many other R.W.’s, who were streaming by me– and then multiply that by a few hundred million, and that’s just the population in the U.S…. how about multiply it by a zillion (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve always loved that word)…and…wow. That is a lot of unknown faces. And I thought, “how does one person ever make a difference in a world of so many souls?”
I’ve always had in mind a goal of somehow leaving a mark, a legacy of some sort, so when I’ve left this world and moved on to that celestial world of peace and harmony, that I would be remembered, or will have made some sort of difference. What I haven’t quite determined yet, of course, is what that legacy will be. I’m still working on that part.
So during my travels I began to wonder, what kind of differences can normal, Real Women make? Sure, we read about celebrities who have the funds and the followers to successfully take on a charity, crisis, or third world development need. We’ve read in our history books and watched world news and marveled over amazing people like Nelson Mandela. Closer to home, we all know unique, special people who devote their lives to volunteering all of their time and energies to one or more worthy causes. We hear of the woman who creates the next great product in her basement and achieves world-wide fame, or becomes a history-making company leader or political figure. We are keenly thankful and amazed by the daily work done by emergency care workers and military personnel.
But what of regular Real Women? All those who work “normal” 40 – 50-hour-a-week jobs, and spend any of their “free” time taking care of family and home? How do they break away to make a difference in their world?
The answer, I have come to believe, is simply in looking at a slightly smaller version of our worlds. Who says the “difference” we make, or the legacy we create, has to be something a stranger 3,000 miles away will notice? Who says that the impression we leave has to be about anything earth-shattering or unusual? If we make a difference in just one person’s life, does that make it any less important?
And so I’ve begun to pay a bit more attention to the changes we Real Women make every day to the people, or world, immediately around us. Some are pretty obvious. For example, one of my BFF’s works for a hospice, where she, and her co-workers, make obvious differences every day in the lives of families who come to them for support and comfort. But sometimes the differences are less obvious, and for the person making them, simply part of life. Like there’s the mom caring for a special needs son. The teacher helping a child learn. The teenager who helps hand out sandwiches to the group of homeless at a church function. The neighbor who comes over in the middle of the night to watch the children when the parents are suddenly called away. The pedestrian who catches the run away dog before it gets hit by a car. All important. All making a difference. Memorable? To the person affected, you bet it is.
It takes about 30 seconds for any of us to think of an instant, even in the past week, where someone made a difference in our life. For me, it was on my vacation. As luck would have it, I celebrated my time away by contracting the Flu. Instantly, I had 3 women stepping in to take care of me (and a forth long-distance via text!). Had I been alone, I would have been far more miserable, and likely sicker. But with them, I had the bonding of R.W. Sisterhood, got the care I needed immediately and still managed to enjoy the trip. Without even trying hard (in their minds), they made a difference.
As far as legacies go, who knows how long any of us will be remembered for who we are and what we do while we are here on earth. I have a hunch, however, that it will be for far longer than we expect. Just recently, a friend shared a memory of my mom with me, more than two decades after her passing; and they said simply: I miss her. Not too shabby for someone who was not a world traveler, Nobel Prize Winner, celebrity or heart surgeon. She was “simply” a Real Woman mom. But her legacy certainly lives on.
Let’s not be too worried about being a world-wide phenomenon, or changing the course of a population. Let’s instead stay focused on making our differences one small step at a time. Guaranteed, something we do today will matter in a big way to someone else.