Maybe there's no sense in waiting anymore...maybe there's only waste and ignorance in hesitating to do this.
The world is a beautiful but broken place, too often guided only by the jangle of loose change and ugly commerce, certainly not by the giant but gentle voices of reason that it should be. People are broken...the help we provide for them is flawed and it's been proven time and time again to be a bitter mixture of inadequate or inappropriate...too often the wrong solutions to the wrong problems. Our thinking, our working, and the very systems that we have created to offer hope to the hopeless, are in dire need of repair, if not running on entirely the wrong fuel in the very first place. We need help...all of us, if we're to save one more young person's life...if we're to help more heads and hearts to heal...if we're to offer any more hope to the increasingly more desperate and lonely people. We need to do something, rather than just wait for something to happen.
It's probably time to get off of my ass.
No less than a few weeks ago the notion crossed my mind to make some changes in my life, and specifically to those things I feel fortunate enough to do, and follow my head and heart into a brand new world of making things happen, rather than watching or waiting for the world to change on it's own. More recently I've been reminded, both intimately and from a so-called comfortable distance, that what I get to do each day has so much more meaning than even I typically attribute to it. Last Friday I received a text message from a young woman whom I talk to on a regular basis who left my office and then followed up our pretty dynamic discussion with a simple text telling me that she felt as though the conversation just saved her life. She was addicted to drugs, selling her body to stay alive, and seeing a ghost each and every time that she looked in the mirror. Our conversation was as deeply engaging as you might imagine, but fun...and supportive and compassionate enough to be almost affectionate. Those conversations change my life, I rarely think about how deeply they might dig in return. Her text message made me choke. I tripped over my own fear and uncertainty for a moment, and then I do what I so often do, smiled and shrugged the sentiment off as gracious but wildly inaccurate or unnecessary. I liked her, she liked me...I wanted to help, she wanted to be helped...that's it. Anyone would have done the same, or said the same, but what I was abruptly reminded was that not everyone would have done the same, and certainly not everyone would have said the same, and then suddenly all of the talk...all of the planning and dreamy what-ifs of my most recent obsessive-compulsive notion were thrust from my backpocket onto my sleeve.
The push forward, because that's all I can muster to call it right now, is called Heart On My Sleeve, and it's the beginning of a comprehensive...exhaustive...awareness and support program for young people, parents, teachers and community support systems, who deal with the overwhelming task of navigating the minefields of depression, drug addiction, mental health, suicide, sexuality, isolation, exhaustion, hopelessness. Heart On My Sleeve is a non-profit venture to pull helping out of our textbooks, waiting rooms, and offices and put it back into our collective hearts. We can do this...all of this...better.
It's simple stuff. We're all human beings, all connected, all steering through the same maze of living and dying. We are inextricably linked, and there's no sensibility or salvation in thinking that our words and actions don't count...that as individuals we can only stand by while others save lives. We can all collect the hope that too often falls unfettered to floors in homes, schools and on the street in every town and city and rural back road in North America. We can all be the gentle voices of reason that save lives and offer hope.
Heart On My Sleeve is something obvious...we're all so much more alike than we are different...we're all capable of saving a life...we're all experts in living. Heart On My Sleeve is a non-profit movement seeking to bridge the gap between helplessness and hope. It encourages everyone -- youth, parents, teachers, community and social service workers, strangers -- to place their hearts firmly on their sleeves and change someone's life by simply being yourself. It's not hard. We're all capable of doing it. Maybe it's time you show someone how you feel?
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