I was walking my dog, Angie, the other night and at first was dreading it a bit because the sun had already gone down and being Seattle, the weather appeared inclined towards a rainy evening. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath knowing Angie and I both needed the exercise and dived in. After a few laps around our neighborhood, I was realized we were going to be fortunate enough not to have any rain, but it was also relaxing because it's one of the few times in the day I'm not glued to some sort of screen or distracted by the business of daily life. We seem to spend a good portion of our lives plugged into the world around us with all its demands, but how often do we challenge ourselves to step back and hit the off switch?
I'm not a luddite and I love my smart phone, laptop and the internet as much as the next person, but while walking with Angie, I really had some time to think things through and reflect a little on life in general. One of the things I realized is that we tend to speak a lot about our influences. This author, filmmaker, sports star (insert inspirational person's name here) inspires me because...you get the point. We spend so much time being "influenced," by others, better or worse, but my question is how much time do we as individuals spend influencing the lives around us? Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." How do you go about changing the world around you? It can be as simple as spending time with your children or volunteering at a local soup kitchen or something more dramatic as joining the military. These of course are only a few examples and the areas can range from charity and public service to even the arts such as performing in a play that inspires a child watching it to become an actor or writing a book that engages young students' attention and encourages them be avid readers for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps I'm asking a bit too much, but I think we receive and absorb a lot from others in our modern world, so much so that we often refer to ourselves as "consumers" or a "consumer culture." Maybe it's time to start embracing more of a "producer culture," and begin pay to influence forward to others in return. It may be a lot in the long term, but I love the fact that Angie's always bubbling with happiness when taken for a walk and looks forward to being fed her dinner when we get home. Whether starting with large or small aspirations for impacting someone's world around you, the key is to start somewhere and see where that takes you.
How do you influence the world around you? Have you noticed others doing so?