“Whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal.”
It is a concept that the young Hunter S. Thompson mused about. It is a choice we all make daily, weekly, yearly. Whether to drive forward and pursue a goal or coast along for a period of time depending on our life circumstances.
We might recognize times in our life when we have experienced each of these: new moms on maternity leave slowing things down and living in the moment feel comfortable floating focusing on their new baby, or students fresh out of school and looking to advance on the career path quickly are found to swim vigorously in pursuit of success.
We may not realize that this choice in itself is a luxury. Many, many of those around us do not have this. Addiction, mental health, poverty, trauma, disaster and health issues rob people of control and the choice of whether to float or swim.
Those living in poverty or on the streets have no choice but to hustle or swim hard, working relentlessly for warmth, food, shelter, safety and to be heard. Those who suffer with their mental health are often times swimming against the current and must consistently struggle to stay above water.
But how many of US do the same – constantly swimming? When do we take time to float? Have a schedule free day? No projects, no rushing to activities, just fun and spontaneity. When we don’t do this, we burn out, run out of energy and we don’t see what is right in front of us. A senior neighbour who is recently widowed and socially isolated, a family at your children’s school who is struggling to get by and feed and clothe themselves.
As a community, our job is to keep that balance so we can swim harder when others cannot, cheer on those doing their very best to start that swim, and take an extra turn so others can rest. We need to find a way to help those in crisis – take a break and float for a day, a week, a month and gather the energy they need to make change in their lives and have hope.
Whatever you have to give: time, money, whether your gift, your swim stroke, is cooking for the hungry or comforting those in crisis, giving a hug or a place to stay, your gift DOES make a difference. The difference between a good day and a bad one, the difference between desperation and connection, between feeling invisible and being heard.
What you do today makes tomorrow better. It makes tomorrow more hopeful, more loved, safer, happier, less stressed and less fearful. And we need to keep it that simple, today affects tomorrow. Day by day, step by step we can make a difference with each sunrise.
Between today and tomorrow, that is the journey. Nothing more.
Executive Director, United Way TNC