“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
I never was, nor am, a big fan of poetry, and yet these words of Emily Dickenson’s just spoke to me from the first time I read them.
The idea that everyone can make a difference in their world–and, beyond that, that everyone should–is one that I have always identified with. The thought that I might fail, becoming yet another worthless person in time, leading a life that benefits no one, scares me beyond belief.
About two years ago, my family took me to Bok Tower in Lake Wales, FL. I remember wandering about the gardens and staring up at that strange pink tower. These grounds were created by a man whose grandmother had always told him to “leave the world a more beautiful place than you found it.” Though I thought the tower was a bizarre way of accomplishing it, I loved the message nonetheless.
We’ve all grown up with stories of heroes–George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, even the aforementioned Emily Dickenson–people who gained their slot in the history books by changing the world that surrounded them. They changed the world that surrounds us all; and, in doing so, they’ve shown us how to do the same. With so many of these tales, I doubt that I am the only one who wants to help the world, and I am positive that I am not the only one who is not sure as to how.
The people of the past make it seem easy; they did it, and most of them survived to tell the tale. But what about the rest of us? What about me? I have a vague idea of my interests, but are they my strengths? If not, what are? And what if they don’t coincide with my interests?
Science has always held these interests. In some form, most of my family is involved in the field, so it is what I’ve grown up with. I also see it as my method of accomplishing something. Science holds the key to so many problems. The thought that I could possibly do something to cure cancer is one that both thrills me and freaks me out to the utmost degree.
Footprints in the sands of time, thumbprints on the record, a paragraph in the history books; no matter what you call it, I think we’d all like to believe that we’ve left our mark upon future generations. To leave this world, no matter what follows, knowing that the world is better as I take my last breath than it was when I took my first, is something that–though it fills me with fear–gives me inspiration and hope almost every day. This I believe.