“Mary, you are going to see things that you have never seen before,” my blonde-haired friend with hazel eyes who I nickname “The golden-haired girl with a heart of gold” warned me solemnly.
She was referring to “The Midnight Run.”
“The Midnight Run” is a collective and purposeful event and experience of individuals gathering together to prepare necessary food, toiletry supplies, and clothing to then give to the homeless at different stops in Manhattan. Many of my friends have already gone on at least one “Midnight Run.” My golden-haired girl with a heart of gold friend had gone to many because, as she said, “It makes me feel good to give.”
Yes, I thought, it makes me feel good to give, too. I also wanted to add here: “Because people have given me so much.”
My life was and still is incredibly blessed with family and friends who were so generous and giving to me. More often than not, I spend a lot of my alone time reflecting on my life and how the ultimate form of generosity and selflessness occurred when two of my organ donor families chose to give their loved ones kidneys when tragedy had struck them to the core. My thoughts revolve around what my family and friends had to see when I was sick and thought that the suffering and pain was endless. I think about this larger than life need I have to give to them and to give forward but, most of all, to account for whatever I do or say to whom. When I think about my life and all the generosity from others (and complete strangers, mind you!) that have enveloped me, I cannot fathom or understand how others cannot feel a sense of responsibility and can hurt others?
In these last few years and outside of my dearest family members and friends, my life’s journey has crossed with remarkable individuals—mostly in the transplant community that have enhanced my life and gratitude to give forward, but also in supposedly “ordinary” individuals who have played extraordinary parts. I believe life is a combination of personal and purposeful choices tied tightly with fate and destiny to make the meaningful and purposeful life. I believe we are all connected in some way or somehow. My paths crossing with so many special people have made me have a great and deep sense of responsibility to the world I live in, and that nothing that happens and no one that comes into your life or leaves your life is an accident or coincidence.
That night of my first experience of “Midnight Run,” the New York City lights illuminated the magic of the typical Manhattan mayhem with the contrast of people sleeping in the streets or people literally hungry for the homemade chicken soup that was brewed by a volunteer. I saw the depths of desperation, sadness, and hopelessness mixed with a fighting spirit in their eyes. I metaphorically felt the heavy weight of this world and how we are embedded and engulfed with personal battles that we somehow become desensitized and impersonal to the person.
A lot of people do not think about or take accountability for their actions. Many are quick to pass judgment on and responsibility to others. The immediate reaction is to defend and/or blame. We lose sight of the bigger picture and the greater world we live in and our responsibilities to strangers and friends because we get so wrapped up in our daily lives. All this world needs and all people need are simple and sincere gestures that can make the most significant impact. I have found that what occurs in the time spent with someone matters more than the actual ticking time itself. I have found that a hug, a smile, holding someone’s hand, or just chatting with them means more than an outer presence with inner absence. When it comes to someone, anyone, or everyone, it is all about commonalities to form genuine connections.
The weight of this world is becoming heavier and heavier when we unintentionally hurt others with words and actions that hold no responsibility. The weight of this world is crushing and pulverizing when people view themselves only and have a lack of regard and care for others. Perhaps the weight of this world could lighten if we all got out from ourselves to reach outside together to care for each other and for others.
Many of my family members and friends tell me that I need to slow down and lessen my load of involvement with the various transplant, Asian, and arthritis organizations, but I continue to do all this to lessen the heavy load and burden that the weight of the world feels and experiences. I am one person, but I could never and have never done this all alone.
Do you feel the heavy weight of the world weighing on you to the point that you want to do something about? How amazing that you alone or that me alone have that chance to lighten the weight of our world if we could have eyes, arms, and heart wide open to others.
Do you ever feel a great sense of responsibility to this world that you live in to complete strangers that could someday be your friend?
What will you do today and going forward to lessen the heavy burden and weight of this world?