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A weekly roundup of ideas to Uplift! yourself and where you can join in lively discussions to make ROAMcare what we are.


Actions Matter

Sometime in the last year we published a post, Learning Life Through Hockey, about how a seemingly fast and sometimes violent game can be a teacher of life lessons. More recently we published No Bossing Him Around and others on life’s lessons learned in nature. Not always are the examples of respect, love, courtesy, and kindness found among the more gentle of us. Sometimes we discover more behavior we would do well to imitate in unusual, unconventional learning places. Two events this weekend proved the point well.


#1. The occasion was the retiring of the number of a former member of the Pittsburgh National Hockey League Penguins, Jaromir Jagr.  During his remarks at the ceremony, Jagr, 52, stated, “After a while, when I hit 30, all of a sudden, I still loved the game, but to win something, it didn’t mean that much for me. All of a sudden, I wanted to be remembered as a great person. Somebody that could help other people. That’s what I wanted to be remembered for. The hockey is going to be good. You scored a lot of goals, a lot of assists, you win the (Stanley) Cup, win the (Olympic) medals. But what did you do for the others? That’s the question before you die. God is going to ask what you did here.” Jagr will have some answer to that, supporting children’s hospitals, cancer research, and youth activities in his native Czech Republic.


#2. In a different arena, 136 miles away, just as the number retirement ceremony was beginning, another ceremony was about to wrap up. A group of students gathered in the center of the arena to reveal the total amount raised at this year’s annual charity event: $16,955,683.63. The moment was the culmination of a 46 hour, 708 dancer dance marathon known to those who know it, simply as Thon. Really, the moment was the culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort by over 16,500 volunteers to support families experiencing childhood cancer by covering all medical expenses at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. For the 52nd year, in what has been recognized at the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, college students, many still teenagers, raised a total of over $219 million. The day after this year’s Thon ceremony concluded, next year’s activities began.


What do a 52 year old hockey player and a 52 year old dance marathon have in common and what life lessons are they teaching? When a team retires your number, they in a way are saying nobody can ever replace you. Yet the team continues to put players on the ice, continues to compete, even continues to win championships.  When over 16,000 people get together to work on a single project, they are saying all of us are important but none of us is irreplaceable. There will be more coming after us and they will raise even more money than we did. But though it may have taken the hockey player a few more years to realize than the college students, they all are trying to answer the question, “What did you do here?”


We often ask ourselves have we done anything that we can point to in answer to that question? The answer is…maybe? When you do something monumental, like raising or donating millions of dollars to a charity or cause, the answer is more evident. Maybe. But what of the billions of people who don’t have an innate talent or 16,000 friends to band together with. Can we still do something and make a difference in our world?


It doesn’t take money to make a difference. It does take action. Mahatma Gandhi said, “It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing.” How much or how little action you can put behind your intention matters little. If we can’t do much, if our time and energies are stretched or limited, we know we are not alone in that. Mother Teresa said, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”


It's not often the number of a hockey player who supports children’s causes is retired on the same night that a special group of kids get together to support a children’s cause. Together they remind us that whether you are fortunate enough to have great talent or you are fortunate enough to part of a great activity, we are all fortunate enough to contribute to the wellbeing of the world where we live. Even if we act in somewhat more conventional ways.

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Wow. Such beautiful pictures of what it really means to make a difference, to care about something more than ourselves. To do something that matters. Your comment about none of us being irreplaceable is so poignant--we all live as if we were. We are that drop in the ocean that Mother Teresa speaks of--we're here for a reason, and we get to choose the mark we leave. Really amazing, y'all.

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Thank you Dayle!! Yes, we do get to choose our mark and should choose wisely because every drop does matter! We’ve both been fortunate to be present at large scale events like the dance marathon or on a pilgrimage with thousands of others pursuing a single purpose. That’s when you realize that indeed every drop matters. 

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