The Good You Do Has Meaning

Rather than a quarter life crisis, I have quarterly life crises. I frequently lose my existential footing, questioning everything around me, and then, like a child throwing a temper tantrum, I eventually quiet back down and continue on with my life, perhaps with an in-flight tweak or two.

The last nasty “crisis” was late fall. I don’t know if the timing was ironic or coincidental. Life was changing, but in a beautiful way — I was on jet planes to Nashville, Guatemala and Lake Tahoe to support my brother, and then, ultimately, a new sister-in-law. Joy and pride surrounded me and coursed through me, yet my soul was suffocating, and I was frustrated with the little black cloud following me around.

But soon after returning home and back to my daily ever-so-hectic schedule, the cloud started to dissipate, and then one day, I received two emails a few short hours from one another. The first was from a family friend, the kind of friend who’s so close as to be a relative. You know, the person who’s not related to you, but he/she might as well be because there’s a photo of you as a toddler in his/her living room. That’s Deb, a longtime pal of my mom’s. Deb and her husband came to Tahoe with us for the wedding, and we were able to spend a bit of time together. Deb wrote the following, completely unsolicited, email to me:

Just a note. I really enjoyed spending time with you this past weekend. You are one of my favorite people in the entire world and I think you are wonderful.

I thought, wow, that’s very nice.

Then, later on in the day, after an email exchange with my Mom belaboring a decision to withdraw from a local charitable social organization, she simply replied “the good you do has meaning.”

Cue waterworks.

Why bring up October emails in February?

Because ever since that day, anytime the familiar self-doubt comes knocking at my heart, I keep this phrase as a talisman to ward off defeat.

Because you never know how your words will affect someone else, for good or ill. So why not make it good?

And because I wanted to tell you: the good you do has meaning.


Mom’s final note of that day was a quote by Arthur Golden (“Memoirs of a Geisha”):

A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.

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