“Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi
While the most frequently quoted piece of wisdom given to us from Gandhi has been Be the change you wish to see in the world, I find that this one; Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it, is a bit more, how should I put this? … unidealized … matter-of-fact … pragmatic?
And in fact, I heard it in a surprising context that gave it a lot more meaning than it previously held for me.
Have you ever sat down to watch a movie expecting it to be only really really okay, but when it’s over you are pleasantly surprised that it was actually much more than that? Yesterday I sat down to watch Remember Me, a movie staring Edward Cullen…I mean Robert Pattinson and Claire from LOST…Emelie de Ravin. (On a side note I’d like to say that staring at Robert Pattinson
In all honesty, I was expecting this movie to be crap. I had little faith that Robert Pattinson could be anything more than a sketchy vampire with a staring problem, not to mention whenever I see the actress that plays Claire all I can do is hear her saying in her thick australian accent “Why do you keep in the dark, Charlie?” But it was actually much more than than description written on the back of the bootleg dvd case in broken english led me to believe. It was deeper and more thought-provoking than I had considered it possible to be, tackling experiences in life that we are all bound to relate to on various degrees including the loss of a loved one in some of worst circumstances.
Back to what Gandhi Mentioned
And so we come back to Mahatma’s quote. Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. The reason I found this particular quote to be unidealized, matter-of-fact, and pragmatic is because, well, it doesn’t sugar-coat it. Essentially, it is true.
So, why is it important we do it? If it isn’t of any significance, what’s the point? Or as the movie questioned, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch. Is that true for everybody, or is it just poetic bullshit?”
“By 22 Gandhi had 3 kids; Mozart, 37 symphonies’ and Buddy Holly was dead.”
But remember, what others accomplished within certain points in their lives or what they made significant in their lifetime is their own unique experience. We have the same ability to create what is significant to us, and what will be significant to the world.
Michelangelo designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome when he was 72. Nelson Mandela was 75 when he was elected president of South Africa. Frank Lloyd Wright completed his work on the Guggenheim Museum when he was 91.
And so the thing is, when it comes to what we do in life, we do have to do it. And it is important that you do it because nobody else will.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to take in the first part of this quote, and forget about the second part of it. We start asking ourselves why am I even doing this? What’s the point? Why am I here? Do I really matter in the lives of those around me? What is the significance of all this? Of my life? Of my job? Of going to school? Of my accomplishments? Of my failures? Of my dreams?
You can either let your answers to these questions drive you insane as you try to fill in the blanks, or you can let the journeythese questions bring you on be what is significant. As Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
The Lives we Touch
Furthermore, if anything goes without saying it is that sometimes the most significant thing we will do in our lives is simply being in the lives of others. Because I don’t think it is just poetic bullshit to say that our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.
And often we don’t even realize the important roles we play in the lives of the people around us. We also probably take for granted the roles they play in our own lives.
It’s important to keep this in mind… to keep in touch… to help each other out… to make sure we’re all doing okay.
And sometimes we meet someone special that makes everything that once seemed in question now seem significant.
Today’s Call to Action
With that said, and with the topic of the moment being that of the significance of our lives both to our own selves and to those we share our memories with, maybe it’s time you gave someone a call you’ve been meaning to for awhile. Maybe you haven’t showed that special person in your life how much you care about them in awhile. Or if you’re really pressed for time at least poke someone on Facebook! Okay maybe not that one – that’s for sketchy people (It’s always the same people too?Why is that?) – Yea, maybe a message would be better.
It can be your boyfriend, mom, husband, coworker, wife, aunt, son, girlfriend, daughter, high school sweetheart, someone you work with… you get the picture. Maybe it’s your best friend, someone you lost touch with awhile ago, the hottie from a summer fling back in college, an old coworker, or someone random you thought of because something funny reminded you of them.
Because despite what we often tell ourselves, we are much more significant than we give ourselves credit for. And the people whose lives we have entered most likely love everything about us that makes us (really really ridiculously good-looking) who we are and what we’re all about.
To sum things up
Did I think I’d be able to pull something like this out of a romantic-drama staring a “pale-face”? (Twilight reference… yes I read the books… I know, they are for teenagers … I don’t care 😉 Definitely not. But I absolutely did. And while I don’t want to give away the ending because it adds a level of depth to the movie that some might find is even a bit controversial and close to home, I will say that it did it with a lot of grace and compassion that leaves you feeling almost shocked…something almost refreshing when you think about the crap Hollywood poots out these days… Transformers Two ahem ahem (k I know that came out awhile ago, but honestly, it sucked.)
And so I urge you to go rent the movie and give an old friend a call dammit. If nothing else at least you’ll get to watch strategically angled face shots of Robert Pattinson, Claire playing a role other than a psychotic nomad stuck on an time-traveling island, and of course, you’ll truly do something significant today by leaving a small fingerprint on someone’s life that is significant to your own.
It’s easy to feel every once in awhile that life is just a bunch of poetic bullshit. How do you recognize your purpose? What is the purpose your chasing after?
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