This post is gonna be a downer. Sorry. But it has to be said. And I promise that if you stick with me, I’ll end on a happier note.
In the past month or so, it seems like everyone online has spent at least some time remembering Robin Williams. And although I do not tend to get especially upset by celebrities passing (not in the same way as when I lose someone I know, at least), this particular tragedy has affected me more than others involving people I’ve never met.
Here’s why: I’ve known more than one person who has attempted suicide. I can count at least five friends, family members, and acquaintances who have done so. None of them have succeeded, thank goodness. But I have known people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
And there are many more whose stories I don’t even know.
(This is part of the reason why I included attempted suicide in Cinnamin’s story. It’s a reality of too many people’s lives – it cannot be ignored.)
The thing is… you never know who your actions are affecting. For better or worse, everything you do ripples.
Like I said, for better or worse. Meaning, if you were to attempt suicide, your actions would affect people for the worse. But the other side of the coin is, the good you do affects people for the better. And I guarantee you, you have already affected people for the better. Maybe some people you don’t even know.
Look at the above story about Robin Williams. He might never have known that Redditor’s name. We know they never saw each other again after that day. But he made his life a little better. He made his burdens a little easier to bear.
Believe it or not, you have done the same thing for someone you may never meet again. Someone whose name you will never know. (This happens to be the idea behind my novel in progress about hair donation.)
When I was in high school, a classmate of mine drove drunk and ended up killing his best friend, who was in the passenger seat when they got into an accident. I did not know either kid. I’d never known their names before. But the Monday after it happened, I heard other kids talking about it. I saw how it affected them. And it affected me. I cried. I mourned. Not for someone I’d lost, but because I saw others who had lost someone.
I called my friend in Maryland after school and told her. We cried together. She was with another friend when I called, someone I’d never met or spoken to. But she cried too.
Do you see the ripples? Three thousand miles away, death can affect a friend of a friend of an aquaintance of a friend.
The good news is that the possitive impact you have on a person’s life can do the same thing.
Whoever you are, you are the Robin Williams to the above Redditor for someone out there. Some small act of kindness you’ve done has affected someone’s life for the better. True, there’s no way of proving this, of tracking down that person and finding out what kind act you don’t remember that changed everything for them. But every action ripples. If you have ever done anything good, chances are it helped someone in some way.