I have titled this post “How to Save the World Quietly” because I think we often believe that if the world is to be saved, we must do it in big, spectacular ways—like discovering the cure for cancer or brokering peace between warring nations.
Of course, people sometimes save the world in big ways like this, and of course heroic actions matter. But there is also another way to save the world: the quiet way.
People save the world quietly every day, often going unnoticed by most of the rest of the world.
My friend AnneMarie is like this.
AnneMarie has a beautiful and playful heart.
She loves to write letters and send fun little gifts. (You can read more about her letter writing adventures here.)
Every few weeks or so, I get a postcard or package from AnneMarie. The postcards are often homemade, and the packages contains little gifts like pens or stickers. Every missive is an authentic expression of love.
They are also a breath of fresh air. Here are some cards and gifts she has sent me lately:
AnneMarie also loves to do nature art, and I am always inspired by her creativity. Here’s a nature mandala she made a few years ago–it’s still one of my all-time favorite mandalas I ever seen.
And here are two other pieces she has done in the last couple of years.
The other day, she sent me pictures of some of the playful projects she has been working on. She recently painted words like love, magic, and strength on fallen madrona bark and left these pieces nestled in places in her neighborhood which people would notice while out for a stroll.
And I don’t live in AnneMarie’s neighborhood, but just seeing this picture made me feel lighter and freer.
I have felt a bit overwhelmed the last few weeks.
The semester started at the college where I teach, and we are doing classes in person. My college has done an excellent job of handling in-person teaching during a pandemic.
I feel safe, cared for, and supported.
But it is still hard.
I lecture in a face mask, and all of my students wear face masks, and we social distance the entire time we are in class. This can make it really difficult to interact and build relationships in the way I am used to.
And while I am trying to adjust to teaching in person during a pandemic, I also must manage distance learning technology for students who cannot attend class in person.
All of this is a heavy load to bear. When you add to this civil unrest, a tumultuous political environment, and forest fires going on in my beloved home state of Oregon, it all feels like too much sometimes.
I found myself thinking yesterday, “Will life ever feel normal again? When will this heavy cloud hanging over us finally pass?”
AnneMarie’s pictures and acts of love for me, her friends, and her neighborhood remind me that there is life outside this heavy cloud. There is creativity; there is love; there is freshness; there is magic; there is strength.
That gives me hope that we are going to find our way through the difficult times we are now facing, and it gives me the strength to keep going. And the more I cultivate that strength, the more I share it with my students and with everyone I come in contact. And they, in turn, share it with the people in their lives.
And that’s how, I think, people save the world quietly. It’s by acting in a way that reminds people that we are wise, compassionate, loving, and creative. In doing so, we become more resilient together.
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How One Woman is Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing