It is that time of year again – the time when watching It’s a Wonderful Life and bawling your eyes out is not only appropriate, it is darned well expected.
My personal favorite part of the movie has always been when Clarence, the guardian angel, takes George Bailey on a tour of what could have happened if George had never existed. Person by person, neighborhood by neighborhood, Clarence helps George Bailey trace the outline of his life’s footprint until George realizes that he is not only loved by many but that he has played an integral part in the lives of people he has never even met.
In the era of social media, this resonates particularly strongly.
If you are feeling like your social media presence isn’t doing much, or if you are feeling, as some do during the holidays, like you are just not really getting ahead in your life, take a moment to be your own Clarence. What would Clarence tell you about what your online work has meant to others?
If you’re saying, “Yeck yeck, Clarence wouldn’t have anything to say to me, ” I say au contraire. The thing of it is that as soon as you set foot in the online world, you are a perpetual stream of ripple-creating pebbles into a big pond. Every blog post you write, every tweet you send out, every Facebook status update you post, they all are ripples across that glass surface of the enormous pond of the online world. Maybe your ripple reaches a person who needed to hear just that particular message at that particular moment. Maybe your ripple will reach a person who was trying to figure out the problem you so neatly summarized and solved in your post. Maybe your tweet was the last one that was needed to reach a goal. Maybe your Facebook status update changed a person’s frown into a smile.
Pulling a person back from the edge without knowing it
When I was a kid, a story fell into my hands somehow. It makes this point pretty clearly, so I will share it with you here.
Once upon a time, there was a young man who just could not get on track in his life. He was bullied every day at school. Things were going wrong in his family. His grades were falling. He didn’t like the way he looked. Every day, he just kept getting more and more convinced that there was not a person in the world who cared for him or even noticed he existed.
One day, when it was grey and rainy and cold, the young man was walking his big armful of books back home when someone tripped him and he fell down, all of his books spilling on to the ground.
It was the last straw. The young man was convinced that this world had nothing to offer him, and he was equally convinced he had nothing to offer the world.
Suddenly, a stranger leaned down and helped him up. Asked the young man if he was okay. Helped the young man pick up his books. Asked the young man if he needed any other help.
And for some reason, this was enough to give the young man that boost he had so long been looking for. It was that little break in the clouds that showed him hope was still there. There were people who cared, and he could encounter them in the world. That person, who did something any normal human being would do on any given day, made all of the difference to this struggling young man.
If helping someone who has fallen pick up what they dropped can make that kind of difference, there’s really no telling how many lives you’ve touched in big and small ways.
Think about all of the people you’ve talked to. All of the people who have responded to what you’ve written.
You’re quite the difference-maker, aren’t you?
And you’re rather special.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsueg/4191156523/ via Creative Commons