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Imagine Your Influence
On March 28th, I did not have a clue what I would write about for this month’s Limb but I happened to spot a post on Facebook by my friend Chris that really caught my attention. He recalled a memory of being influenced deeply by the parents of his friend when he was 17 years old. Within seconds, I was transported to Mrs. Miser’s kitchen in the 1960’s, where her daughter and I did a lot of baking under her tutelage. I also time-traveled to Mrs. Murphy’s kitchen table where I had the privilege of enjoying home-cooked meals as a welcome alternative to college cafeteria food. Mrs. Murphy’s curiosity was boundless. It was such a treat to engage in conversation about personal things and be heard so thoroughly. I have always considered each of these women my surrogate Moms. There were neighbors who took their entire family on hikes on the weekend and I got to go with them. One mother used cool words like uncouth and verboten. Each of these individuals are like the scrumptious spices that meld together to make a delicious dessert. And by the way, each of us is dessert. Right?
So many others had an influence (added spice) on who I have turned out to be, including my siblings, parents and grandparents. I found myself nodding when Chris’s post said his memories were “another reminder that guidance, insight, or inspiration can be found anywhere.”
I could have reminisced for hours but instead, I turned my attention to the flip side of this topic. Perhaps each of us is Mrs. Miser or Mrs. Murphy to someone. Our influence may be incidental, bordering on trivial, or it might be downright profound. If that is true, we get to make a difference in other people’s lives. That may feel like a tremendous responsibility but I would argue this may also be a joy-maker. Think about the grin Mrs. Miser would get on her face if I could tell her, “thanks to you, I am an adventurous baker,” or if I could tell Mrs. Murphy, “with gratitude to your example, I am an inquisitive listener.” And now I must say to my friend Chris, thanks to your post, some lovely memories surfaced, and you helped me write this month’s Out on a Limb! Embrace that influence.
Carpe the Danged Diem
I cannot pick up the phone and call Mrs. Miser or Mrs. Murphy to express my appreciation for their influence as both of them have already passed. What I can do is urge myself, and you, to acknowledge those who have had a positive influence while they are still alive. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I believe this cannot happen soon enough. Think of the joy you will bring, and say it now.
The jury is out on whether crows are a positive or negative influence in this corvine haiku.
Din of caws at dawn
Dining tips or at death’s door?
Listen, sleep can wait.
Prompts for Joy
Another positive influence I receive from Facebook (besides the post by Chris) is the breadth of inspiring, humorous, breathtaking images and videos. I thank each person who posts something that moves them to share with others.
Click here for a glimpse into someone’s playful imagination.
(Thank you, Stephanie Gerson, for reminding me of this whimsical video, via Facebook.)
Click here to see a moving expression of gratitude from a gorilla being released back in the wild.
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·