A small thought on small actions


#1

Twelve days into the Trump presidency and it seems that everything has been thrown into full fledged meltdown mode. Tech Twitter has turned into Tirade Twitter. Many people are afraid and falling into despair–despair about their jobs, their big life plans, and the future generally. I suspect that there’s a heaping portion of guilt to go along with it as well. Should I have participated more during the election? Should I be out at the march or preparing to man the barricades? Just WHAT exactly is the course of action I should be taking right now?

It’s easy to throw out a platitude like “it will get getter” or “this too will pass.” However, it all rings a bit hollow because looking around, it sure seems like it might NOT get better and that we could very well die in some kind of calamity. I’d prefer not to think about either of those options, but I’m also just being realistic. History is littered with the ashes of dead empires. So, maybe it’s just our turn. Yep, the timing sure sucks to be sure.

Of course, this still doesn’t answer the question of what to do when you’re entirely surrounded by a rising tide of anger as far as the eye can see. I mean, what is one person supposed to do? What can you do? Falling into despair and nihilism is all too easy.

Maybe a different approach is to step outside myself and think about the rising tide itself. For each small action that I take during the day, I try to take a moment to think about its contribution to the tide. What is a tide, but trillions upon trillions of tiny drops?

As a simple example, let’s talk about bike riding. As many of you know, I like to go out road-biking at 4:00am. NOBODY is out biking at 4am. The streets are empty. You can just ride full blast with blatant disregard for traffic laws. It’s great. Yet, every so often, I’ll pull up to an intersection with a red light and a lone car will be sitting there. There is no cross traffic as far as the eye can see in any direction, but it’s just you, that car, and that red light. It’s easy to think “I’ll just blow that light”. I mean all cyclists do it. Go read the comments section on ANY newspaper article about bikes and it’s filled with driver rage directed at entitled law-breaking cyclists. So, I think about that and I think about that lone driver sitting there at the light in the morning darkness just trying to get to work. If I blow that light, the driver is probably going to be just slightly annoyed. They’re probably going to mutter something like “fucking cyclists” under their breath as they pass me again a bit further down the road. Maybe it pushes them into an aggravated mood and they later flip-off your grandma for making a left-turn a bit too slowly. So, you know what? I’m NOT going to blow through that light. I can sit for 30 seconds and take a sip of water or something. Maybe it means nothing. But maybe the driver will pull away with just a slightly more positive view of cyclists. Maybe they’ll mention it to a friend or coworker at some point. Who knows? Either way, I just know that it probably didn’t add to the rising tide.

Admittedly, it’s not much, but kindness is local and something concrete that can be practiced every day. Which is to say that it’s more than simply doing nothing. At least it might be a good starting point for everything else.

Anyways, that’s it for now, Stay strong. And give a friendly wave to a stranger perhaps