When I look around me, the world appears to be quite a mess; news of fiscal cliffs, disasters and every kind of human and planetary suffering abound. I see a world teeming with negativity and fear. And many people seem to wallow in fear day after day with no way out.
If I allow myself to spiral into fear and worry, I can end up wallowing in pain and pessimism all day long. And when I get stuck in worry and fear, I can’t help myself or anyone else; my personal angst only adds more pain to the world.
I am reminded of Buckminster Fuller’s story. In his 30’s, Buckminster became quite depressed about how his life was going. He felt guilty about how much he drank and how he had neglected his family. He felt like a complete failure and thought about killing himself. But one day, he asked himself if he had truly tried. And he decided to turn the rest of his life into an experiment.
“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all.
So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.”
Buckminster went on to become an internationally renowned designer. He decided that he could be a little trim tab and change the course of the world. And he made a huge difference. Little ripples matter.
Yes, much of this world is a complete and utter mess. How do we stay calm and keep our equilibrium when faced with such horrible news day after day? And how can one person possibly make a difference in a world that is so messed up? What is the point in even trying?
But in every moment that we wriggle free of all that energy of worry and fear – every moment free of that tangled web, is a moment to celebrate. Every moment that we can be peaceful is a little ripple of yummy energy sent out into the world. And every little ripple of love and joy and peace that we create matters.
Remember the power of the trim tab and the little ripples it makes that turn the Queen Mary around. Little ripples of peace and joy and love and calmness matter whether we consciously realize it or not. Every little yummy ripple we create matters.
Advice to myself today: Breathe. And breathe again. Relax. And whenever possible, send a few ripples of peace or love or joy out into the world. Be a trim tab!