When I was a child I realized that I had different interests than the kids who were my classmates or whom I knew in the neighborhood. That is not to say that they were better or worse than my friends and acquaintances – merely that they were “different.”
I wasn’t concerned about who had the prettiest “aggie” marble. Or who had the best collection of baseball cards or the biggest collection of dolls. I was concerned about the meaning of my life – and I still am.
I think I was about ten when I began pondering the imponderable – “Why am I here and what does my life mean?” (I’m still working on that). But I took stock. I realized that I had at least a few talents and wondered how I might utilize those to change the world.
People always found me to be physically “cute or adorable.” But cute and adorable didn’t make me a ravishing beauty – certainly not of Hollywood stature. So depending on my physical appearance didn’t seem to be the way to change the world.
I was “smart” – but compared to an Isaac Newton or a Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein, I was pretty much “run-of-the-mill.” So sheer genius didn’t seem to be my avenue to change the world.
Then there was politics. But unless I were Queen of England or President of the United States – I doubted that I would have a great deal to say about changing the world.
I was an excellent pianist – but without the genius of a Vladimir Ashkenazy or an Anton Rubenstein or Alicia de la Rocha. I believed that I would be unable to offer the world anything with my musical semi-brilliance.
So how would I change the world? Would my comings and goings for however short or long a time make any difference? My ten year-old mind continued to ponder the un-ponderable and I remember becoming quite depressed.
But then, after a wonderful meal of oxtail stew that grandma had prepared, comforted with this warm and filling food I hit on an idea. It was something that I could achieve – and as much as dinner had filled my belly – this idea filled my mind.
I could change the world!
If I could extend kindness and courtesy, love and compassion to only two people during the course of my lifetime which would enable those two to become better people than they otherwise might be; and if those two people could do the same and the following four do the same and then the eight and then the sixteen and … well you see where this is going. I had an opportunity to do something important. I could change the world.
Each of us makes his mark as we go through life. The question we must face, deep down to the roots of our being, is not whether we can change the world – but in what way shall we accomplish our task?