The Hill of Helpfulness

Helpfulness is often thought of as a never ending staircase. One can be at the bottom, not being helpful at all, or can be forever climbing, helping people along the way.

But I think of helpfulness as being more like a hill. As before, one can stand at the bottom, being completely apathetic, or one can chose to climb the hill and help those in need. Eventually though, one will reach the peak, and as they say, it’s all downhill from there. At a certain point, helpfulness hits a maximum, and further attempts to help end up becoming more of a hindrance.

Many times have I scaled this hill, and then sprinted down the other side headfirst without realizing it. On occasion, due to some bizarre perspective, it appears that someone is trying to push an object up the hill, when in fact, they’re already standing on top. My enthusiastic desire to help push will only result in sending everything crashing down.

Good intentions are admirable in themselves, but it’s ultimately one’s actions that have real consequences. Something to think about before breaking out the ol’ hiking boots. 

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Playing the Part

Bryan Cranston, the star of Breaking Bad (or the dad from Malcolm in the Middle, as I will always consider him), gives some wonderful advice to aspiring actors.

In case you can’t watch the video, he says that actors shouldn’t show up to an audition hoping to get a job. They should be there to showcase their talent, to perform. It’s an approach that can be applied to any job, I think. Or any aspect of life.

When you go to a job interview, don’t think about just ‘getting a job’. Really show the interviewers who you are and how you fit into that role. Picture yourself working in that position, and speak to them as if you’re already part of the team, rather than just trying to impress with your accomplishments to improve your chances. Whether they hire you or not is out of your control, but at least you represented yourself and your talents.

Think of any situation where you need to speak to an audience. A presentation, or a debate, or teaching a class. If you just throw out facts and details in an attempt to impress or wow your audience, that might work. But if you actually present those facts in a way that reflects your viewpoint, that teaches something while also showing who you are, people will be more likely to listen. Once again, you can’t force people to agree with you or learn anything from you. But the impression you’ll make is undeniable.

Approach every situation as a chance to show who you are, instead of just going through the motions. Give every role the performance of a lifetime.

The Cost

I recently found myself in a position where I was asked to play up a personal tragedy to get myself pitied into a job. The tragedy in question was fairly recent, and has permanently made my world a little grayer. Could I really trivialize such an incident just to make money?

The cliché goes that desperate times call for desperate measures. But what is the cost of desperation? I can get myself a job, maybe even get really successful at it and earn a sizable paycheck, all because I wasn’t true to myself that one time. One day, I may lose that money, and then get it back again with another job. But there is still that little piece of me, that tiny nugget of honesty that I gave up to get there. And that’s never coming back. Every morning, I’ll wake up and look at myself in the mirror, staring at that missing piece in my reflection. That is too high a cost.

People are always trying to climb the tower of success, tripping each other to get closer to the pinnacle. I wonder what they see in their reflection, if it scares them. Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps the cost is just right for them. Or maybe they can afford better mirrors. There is only one way to know, but I will not pay that cost. The climb isn’t worth it.

So I chose a different path. It’s quite steep, and I can’t even see the top from down here. But I looked in the mirror this morning and smiled. My reflection smiled back.

It felt whole.   

Moon Child

I saw her one night by the river.
She was radiant, pale skin lighting up the gloom,
And her silver hair shimmering in the moonlight.
What was her name? I had to know
So I approached her, but she fled into the sky. 
“Wait!” I cried. “I only wish to know who you are!”
But she kept climbing higher, and I followed
Until I could go no further and fell to the ground.
For she was a moon child, lovely to behold, 
But untouchable, as the moon itself.

And So It Begins…

Ideas. Inspirations. Doubts. Worries. Reflections. Realizations. Memories. Every second of every minute, a multitude of thoughts swirl around in my mind. Sometimes conflicting, sometimes connected, sometimes completely random, they vie for space and attention in an already crowded room.

‘Maybe you should ask out that cute girl at the store.’ ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could fly?’ ‘Are you destined to be alone?’ ‘Is that swelling harmless?’ ‘If only you had taken that chance.’  Who would have guessed that thoughts would be the greatest impediment to thinking? But they cannot stay; I cannot possibly contain them all and still keep my head.

I will thus release some of those thoughts here, giving them a pasture to roam free. And should they feel the urge to latch themselves on to the mind of another, I will not stop them. Go then, my crazy little ideas, my odd memories, my bizarre concerns. Make yourselves comfortable. Welcome to your new home.