I raised my hand and spoke. "I have an illness that causes intermittent bouts of paralysis," I explained. "And that paralysis has taught me something. It has taught me that my protestations of my own powerlessness are bogus. Yes, some days I can't move or see. But you know what? Some days I can move. Some days I can see. And the difference between being able to walk across the room and not being able to walk across the room is epic.
"I commute to campus by foot along a railroad track. In spring, I come across turtles who have gotten stuck. The track is littered with the hollowing shells of turtles that couldn't escape the rails. So I bend over, and I pick up the still-living trapped turtles that I do find. I carry them to a wooded area and let them go. For those turtles, that much power that I have is enough.
"I'm just like those turtles. When I have been sick and housebound for days, I wish someone - anyone - would talk to me. To hear a human voice say my name, to be touched; that would mean the world to me.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that the "unnoticed" gestures of "insignificant" people mean nothing. It's not enough to recycle our soda cans; we must Stop Global Warming Now. Since we can't Stop Global Warming Now, we may as well not recycle our soda cans. It's not enough to be our best selves; we have to be Gandhi. And yet when we study the biographies of our heroes, we learn that they spent years doing tiny, decent things before history propelled them to center stage.
god help me to do some tiny decent thing today.