A Call to Arms

I want to save people.

Anyone I see in pain. Anyone I see hurting. I want to help them. It is a natural impulse for me. That feeling is ever-present. Baked in my soul.

People I’m close to. People I just meet. Anyone.

Everyone really.

But there is no way I could save everyone in this world who is in pain. I know that. Not with just my own two hands. Not with only 24 hours in each day. And not with only 80+ years on this planet.  

This reminds me of Loren Eiseley’s Star Thrower:

A boy came upon thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. And started picking them up and throwing them back in the ocean. An old man saw him and said, ‘What are you doing boy? You’ll never be able to save all those starfish.’ The boy stopped for a second and bowed his head, dejected. Then he realized something and smiled. He picked up another one and threw it as far in the ocean as he could. He yelled back to the old man, ‘I saved that one, didn’t I?’

I get why this story is told. And I like it. But what happens when one of those starfish winds up on another beach? On another day. A beach far from the little boy. Far from anyone.

I’ve come to realize that saving people isn’t the answer. Regardless of how it makes me feel. It’s not good for would-be ‘saved’.

Some people think they need to be saved, but they really need something more. Something better. That they can take with them. They need to be armed.

Allowing yourself to be saved by someone else, only leads to you to need to be saved again and again.

And some of these things, that we think are these huge problems, that cause us to feel like we need saving, are actually really small in the scope of life. And if you can’t walk over a candle by yourself, how will you ever get through a real fire?

Have you ever gotten a cheat code on a video game? You skip ahead, sure, but then what happens? You aren’t good enough to beat the higher levels. You are not strong enough. Because you haven’t built those skills. Not yet.

It’s not about being saved. It’s about saving yourself.

I didn’t learn how to pick myself up, by someone yanking me from the ground to my feet. I wouldn’t have learned anything from that. Just like you won’t learn from me, or from anyone else, just lifting you up.

We learn from picking ourselves up. When no one else is there, and we are forced to get up all on our own, those lessons get seared onto our brains. That strength immediately fills our souls.

So what happens the next day? On the next beach? When those starfish land ashore and that little boy is nowhere to be found? They die. That’s what happens. Because they have no idea how to get themselves back in that water.

What if that young boy grabbed a megaphone? And taught those starfish how to crawl back to the ocean? Arm after arm. Step by step. Encouraging them, yes. Urging them, yes. But letting the starfish do it themselves.

Don’t discourage help. Not for you or for others. We all need people in this world to help us. It’s too hard to do this all on our own. Especially when we’re down. Especially when we’re really far down.

But I know…there are people out there. Right now. Just sitting. Waiting to be saved. Lying down. On the sands of life. As if they are incapable of moving. As if they are incapable of getting back in that ocean.

I have some news for you…no one is coming to pick you up and hurl you back in the water.

And that fact is a positive, not a negative. Because I have more news for you. You are capable of doing this on your own. You will gain so much more from doing this on your own. 

You don’t need someone to save you. You don’t even want that. You need to get up yourself. So that you can build and have that strength for when this hole is deeper. And darker.

And trust me…at some point in your future…it will be.

And you need to be armed to deal with that. With tools. With strength. With knowledge. With confidence. With drive. With the knowing, that you have everything that you need to get up and get out of it. All by yourself.

Now stand the hell up. And walk yourself back into your life.