You Are That One Person

One day a man was walking along the beach, when he noticed a boy hurriedly picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?”
The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
The man laughed to himself and said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference to that one.”
This story, by Loren Eiseley, has stuck with me since childhood. It inspired me to ask mom to buy shoes for a shoeless classmate in elementary school. To take an extra sandwich to give to a hungry friend. To rescue wounded wildlife. To acknowledge homeless people. To love as I want to be loved.
From childhood I have believed one person can make a difference. Each of us is that one person. Find a need and fill it. Be an Ambassador of Love. Lead with Your Heart. Spread Positive Vibes. Show the world what Love Is.

Say Thank You to Those Who Deserve Our Thanks

In addition to the occasional letter of compliant I spoke about last week, I write many thank you notes. I believe in supporting others as I want to be supported. So I recently sent letters thanking the four officers who bravely testified about their experience on January 6th.

Dear Officer Hodges,

When I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, in the late 1980s, I had a friend named Libby. She had a son. She seemed to be an ordinary person living an ordinary life. What many did not know is Libby was actually an ordinary person who chose to live an extraordinary life.

Libby was twenty-three when her uncle and three other Ku Klux Klansmen and segregationists planted at least fifteen sticks of dynamite beneath the front steps of the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The bombing on Sunday, September 15, 1963, which killed four little girls, was an act of white supremacist terrorism. In 1965 the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded the church bombing had been committed by four known Klansmen. No prosecutions ensued until 1977, when Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of first degree murder of one of the victims.

My friend, Elizabeth (Libby) H. Cobbs, was star witness for the prosecution against her uncle. He was convicted, in large part, as a result of her testimony. After the trial, threats and harassment from Ku Klux Klan members forced Libby and her son to leave Birmingham for several years. I cannot tell you my friend was not terrified to testify, to expose her uncle for his part in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing or the many other atrocities he committed. On several occasions, Libby shared with me how afraid she was to do what she chose to do. However, she did not let fear stop her from standing up to courageously do the right thing.

You did not let fear stop you from doing the right thing either.

The people I most admire in life are not entertainers, sports stars, or titans of business. My heroes are everyday people like Libby, and you. I am humbled by your sacrifice, saddened by your pain, and inspired by your courage. Like my friend Libby, you, and all who defended our Capitol on January 6, will go down in history as our nation’s great heroes. Ordinary men and women, who when called upon, do extraordinary things.

We Can Complain, Nicely

After a very hard five weeks in Little Rock taking care of mom I was exhausted. I boarded a flight in Little Rock bound for Dallas to catch a flight back home to Los Angeles. I was really disgusted by the dirtiness of the airplane from Little Rock to Dallas. And decided to write a letter to complain, nicely. I wrote directly to the President and CEO of American Airlines. Don’t know if he will get it but that did not stop me from writing to him. Because it is okay for us to complain, nicely.

July 16, 2021

Dear Mr. Parker,

Frequently in organizations, especially one as large as American Airlines, customer comments, particularly critical ones, do not reach the top. Which is why I am writing to you personally to share an experience I had recently.

I have been a frequent flyer member for several years. Overall, my experience with American Airlines has been very good. Until flight AA 3642 from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Dallas on Tuesday, July 13.

The enclosed photo is the seat mechanism in front of me. I have never encountered this level of neglect and filth on any American Airlines flight. I am certain cuts to staff during Covid-19 continue to impact many aspects of AA’s operations. Yet I trust you, as CEO, care about daily details such as the cleanliness of all airplanes. In the mind of this consumer, the job each AA employee does is a reflection of all who work for American.

Thank you for your time and attention. I assure you this one experience has not caused me to seek a new favorite airline. But it has motivated me to communicate my displeasure, because if I were in your position, I would want to know.

Love Is Powerful to Heal

You may remember that my mother, at almost 97, fell on June 6th, broke her right arm, fractured her right hip, and then developed pneumonia. I rushed from Los Angeles to Little Rock and for the next 5 weeks took care of her day and night. I have never worked so hard in my life. And I have always worked hard.  But this was different on so many levels.

The physical exhaustion was tremendous because I had to do everything for her. Moving her, pushing her, helping her stand, bathing her, etc. I also cooked, cleaned, shopped, ran errands. There was no down time. Each night I fell into bed dreading the next day. I was too exhausted to sleep well. I was waiting for my dad to appear at my door to ask for help to get mom to the bathroom.  It was the hardest 5 weeks in my almost 65 years.

It took time to get a team of caregivers to come in and take over. By the time the arrangements had been made I was at the point I could not physically, emotionally, mentally do one more moment. I returned to LA and have spent the past 3 weeks working to recover.

We don’t just get over things in life. When we go through something challenging it is easy to say I am okay, when we are far from okay. I can tell you that I am becoming okay again.  It has taken time for me to rest, to get back into a routine of self-care and self-love. I don’t want you to think I am not grateful for the time I spent caring for mom because she is walking. She is now able to take better care of herself. She can answer the phone again.

Love is powerful to help us do what we have to do in life.  To face the hard, hard challenges we must. And to help us get through those challenges to heal. Not only from physical injuries and exhaustion but also from the emotional toll life takes on us at times.

Love has amazing powers to heal a broken mother. And a daughter who is slowly finding her footing again.