MakingADifference


"Just being here seems to spawn more difference than anyone could ever comprehend."

A Difference seems to stand at the very top of the list of 'things' people say they want to make, well above 'supper' and even 'trouble.' The statement itself strikes me as banal, though I know it's supposed to seem supremely inspirational. I, myself, think of myself as a difference skeptic. When comparing myself with the context within which I stand, I see little leverage. I'm a small guy imbedded in infinite infinities, tiny in comparison with almost everything else. Sure, I hold BIG ideas and sometimes even great notions, but the possibilities seem the very opposite of endless, even before I add in the insidious effects of time. I figure that if I really want to make a difference, I just need to close my eyes for an instant, then open them up again. The challenge seems to lie in noticing what's different then.

Even when I accept that I might make some difference, I tend to think in inappropriately grandiose terms. I want to make a BIG difference, so I start gnawing on something much larger than anyone could effectively chew, let alone eventually swallow.
I struggle to identify small changes that I might reasonably initiate but which might ultimately result in a surprisingly larger difference. Then again, Think Smaller hardly qualifies as the sort of message belonging on any motivational poster. It might be that the whole notion of Making A Difference belongs to the class of aspirations, there to inspire rather than actually ever manifest. As long as the fundamental delusion persists, forward momentum might also persist, and as long as forward momentum persists, the potential for difference perseveres. No difference ever resolves until after the pursuit ends, anyway.

I sometimes wonder if little old 'I' have made any difference for my brief presence here. I've had my great notions, none of which turned out to change much of anything. More interestingly, though, the 'things' that I seem to have deeply influenced into a difference never came about as even an indirect result of any notion-carrying on my part. They rather sort of just emerged, and often surprisingly, seemingly unbidden. I suspect that the dominant stories saying how it is that one goes about Making A Difference amount to myths, reassurances that we each somehow hold more (or a different kind) of influence than most of us ever possess. Maybe some billionaire can drop a few mil on a situation and make a huge difference, but who's to say that my quarter I passed to that anonymous busker didn't also affect some similar change? Mine was doubtless small change, but who knows?

My chief difficulty with Making A Difference might be that I've devised no clever way to collect useful data which might help me see the differences emerging. I've migrated far beyond the moment of engagement before any difference could have happened and few ever think to drop a note from that future back into the past to let the humble initiator know, so he remains clueless of his actual influence. By then, he might have even grown indifferent to it. My greatest achievements hardly qualify as achievements. I might more realistically refer to them as unintended consequences or unanticipated outcomes, for they were most certainly one of those, with cause curiously separated from ultimate effect. I might as reasonably ascribe every difference I claim to have made to that proverbial Brazilian butterfly flapping his wings.

I count my blessings anyway, though I cannot defend my part in producing most of them. The world seems very different now than it seemed to me when I was first infected with the notion that I really should aspire to make a difference. The world almost seems like a movie which flips frames several times per second, though the viewer might never notice those infinitesimal differences. Longer spans reveal scenes changing, though the deeper significance of those changes might require more than any lifetime for anyone to understand. The movie might be entertaining enough without ever understanding the deeper plots. I'm endlessly leaving difference behind me like wavelets behind a canoe. Some disturb more than a mere flotilla of ducks. Later, the lake reveals no prior passage but perhaps the kid tucked up along the gunnel found inspiration there and went on to change her world, too. Just being here seems to spawn more difference than anyone could ever comprehend.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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