25 January 2012

Thoughts on Good Deeds

I, like nearly everyone else on the planet, would like to think I am an inherently good person. I try to do the "right" thing and help out those around me. I try to give sound advice only when I am asked for it - which can be a challenge in itself, as anyone who knows me can tell you. (I'm too diplomatic for my own good. Lol.) I try very, very hard to think before I speak, which doesn't always work, but I'm only human.

Today, out of the blue, I started thinking about good deeds and heroes and people who do good work and leave their mark on others. This category of "good" people spans so many groups. Friends, family members, celebrities, singers, internet celebs, writers, on and on. I got to wondering: is it ever weirdly awkward when a fan comes up to a celeb, artist, etc. and says "your work saved my life." I'm sure it's flattering to hear that kind of thing, but it strikes me as a feeling that would come after the fact, especially if the person in question has never heard this particular statement before. If someone came up to me and said "something you wrote in your book saved my life" I don't know what my response would be. A statement like that suddenly puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of the person on the receiving end. Something you did literally changed someone's life for the better by ensuring they are still around. How much pressure is attached to that idea? Seriously, think about it.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be a tremendous honor, but my god it would strike me, in the moment, as so awkward! Then again, I suppose that's a part of human nature. We're trained, programmed, conditioned, whatever phrase you want to use, to shy away from such issues as our own mortality. That feeling of awkwardness when the issue of mortality is pointed out to us is a pre-programmed response. How do you fight that? What do you say other than "wow"? How many lives can one person or one work actually save? Do some people say those kinds of things in exaggeration or to bring forth that awkward moment? Do they do it in order to deliberately give more depth to the person or thing that did the "saving"?

In my opinion, not to belittle the base idea of inspiration, if the thing that "saved" you was a work created by someone else that was not deliberately created for you, I rally don't know how much the creator had to do with your being saved. You attached significant meaning to the work, whatever it may have been, and that significant meaning you brought to the work caused you to make a change in your own life. Is this a bad thing? No, of course not, but you made that choice. Nobody made it for you.

Yes, I'm probably doing a lot of generalizing and maybe being a little overly cynical. I tend to overthink things and that might be the case today. Nevertheless, there it is. Today's random thought. Hope somebody found it interesting.
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