Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Sweet Peace #38: We humans are a curious lot

Grinding hole found in local park

It’s Tuesday. The calendar reminds me of my commitment to write a Sweet Peace post every Tuesday. However, this week it snuck up on me and I have no thoughts about what to write. We’re in the midst of a heat wave and my physical well-being is fried, boiled might be a better term since I’m in a limp-noodle state which feels neither sweet nor peaceful.

And then … and then Richard Branson sends me a note, asks me a question which tickles the feather of energy still floating through my being: 

What words keep you centered 

and motivated when you wake up?”

I survey the empty parking lot of my mind and finally see a pebble in the far corner. I turn it over and written in tiny, almost illegible letters are the words: Everything is a gift! Almost involuntarily, I feel the lift of those words and decide to reply to Richard’s note, since he asked. There I find 666 comments already in place. No point adding my meager offering, I think.

Because the energy bucket is running on fumes, however, I follow the call of a shiny rabbit and begin to read the comments. Suddenly a world opens up, an interconnected, human world of pain and sorrow, success and defeat, generosity and crass opportunism.

After a ridiculous amount of time passes wandering in this rabbit hole, it suddenly dawns on me that Richard Branson, one of the most successful people on the planet, someone with 4.4 million subscribers to his LinkedIn newsletter, is beloved by some, castigated by others, and never hears from the rest.

By the time I pulled myself out of this quagmire, there were 1,129 comments on Branson’s post … that is roughly .02% of his followers. Some appreciated his words, some wanted to tell their own stories, and some wanted his money or power. However, 99.98% of his followers never saw his post, didn’t read it, or … like me … didn’t bother to comment.

It is a lesson worth the off-track jaunt. I can only control the efforts I make, the way the world responds to my offerings is completely out of my hands. The world is a busy place with people trying to make their way through a tsunami of information. While they crave information that will help them on their journey through life, at the same time, they feel the pressure to run faster, skim the surface, try to grab the next bright bit. For information creators, dealing with this push/pull can be daunting.

Rather than doing nothing though, Branson sat down and wrote a few thoughts from his life that he thought might be inspirational to some people (and they are) and probably to also give himself the pleasure of reliving some of his path and honoring people who inspired and motivated him.

We never know what effect our words will have. Often, people receiving the words may also not know the effect of those words until some time in the future when the words come back at just the moment they're needed. While I thought Branson's words were motivational, what really inspired me was his taking the time to share them and the way he shared them without expectation of return. He offered his thoughts, saying, “For anyone in need of inspiration, I hope you find these phrases useful.” 

Even in my energy-challenged state, I feel a call to carry on, to continue sharing thoughts and words and hoping that some of them will take root like seeds on plowed ground. I also feel a renewed desire to carry on with this 52-week commitment to Sweet Peace, confident that there will always be new lessons on the journey.

You can find Branson's newsletter post at Ask Richard Newsletter

And, should you want a taste of the comments, here is the essence of some that caught my attention:

  • A grieving woman wants to sue the vet for the death of her cat
  • An older worker bemoans the difficulty of getting a decent job
  • A father grieving his son, dead from COVID, and dealing with a world that seems cold and cruel
  • One person shares:  if you don't ask, the answer is always no
  • A candidate for the prime ministry of the UK asks Branson what he’s going to personally do about the state of the world, specifically climate change
  • Another response solicits funds for a renewable energy project
  • A man wants a job at Virgin
  • An invitation for Richard to come to a remote place to tell his story.
  • A man sends the first paragraph of the book he is writing
  • An idea to help Richard make more profit
  • A touching thank you to life
  •  A parent says, "I may not be a business owner or have a prominent position in the organization that i work for, but at home I am valued more than anything and that is what motivates me."
  • A guy explaining the “Theory of Everything” says, “Richard, if you keep an open mind, you will realize that this is the most important comment you've ever received.”
  • For some reason, one guy thinks Richard Branson should invite him to Branson’s private island
  • A request for funding for a series of Christian films
  • A guy who has a proposal to save Ukraine, tells Branson, “I am your only salvation.” (All in caps) In an earlier comment, the same all-caps guy tells Branson “YOU HAVE FLET THE WRATH OF GOD.” And again, “YOU ARE A CON ARTIST ... I AM THE ONLY GUY THAT CAN SAVE ... VIRGIN GROUP.”
  • A man with the tagline, “Making tomorrow’s future, today,” accuses Branson and the commenters of living on Planet Optimism and explains the “reality” of “greed conquering goodness and evil supplanting everything worthwhile and wholesome.”

There's more, but life calls me back to reality and the last whiff of energy just drifted away.

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