Can a simple smile change the course of history?

I woke up feeling thankful this morning. I woke up feeling connected. Even if we have never spoken, even if we may never meet, I had this sense of friendship out there in the world. There are many people whose blogs I read, whose art I appreciate, whose songs I listen to, whose books I read, that I will never get a chance to speak to. But they still have affected me…changed some part of my human story with beauty that they had to share.
So whether we ever speak, or meet, or write…if you are reading this – if your eyes cross these words, this is dedicated to you.
I have always loved doing volunteer work. When I was in high school, my friend Cynthia and I volunteered after school at the United Way. I liked doing it because I knew that I was helping on some level, but I really just put envelopes together for their mail outs and stuff like that. It didn’t seem that spectacular. But we still went, every week and did a bunch of little tasks. I didn’t feel like I was changing the course of history or anything.
When I graduated, my brother Ryan and I put together an all-day concert to benefit Toys for Tots. We raised $1,700 which was a big deal I thought. I will never forget my brother and I having two empty shopping carts and racing up and down the aisles of Toys R Us and filling those baskets with toys from the wish lists of needy kids. That felt awesome. It is one of the things I’m most proud of doing…but still, I didn’t feel like I changed the course of history or anything. I’ve volunteered at animal shelters, I’ve donated blood a billion times, I’ve donated a ton of stuff to Goodwills all over, I’ve performed in a bunch of benefits – and all this is because I had fun and enjoyed it and it felt good. But never did I feel like I was really making a difference, or really changing that much.
Then, our home burned down to the ground. And for the first time in my life, I’m on the receiving end of charity. And it’s humbling and mind-blowing and awe-inspiring. People have written amazing letters of support from all over the world. People have shared their stories with me about their fires/their floods/their devastations and let me know I’m not alone. People have donated $1. People have donated $200. People have left messages on Twitter, Facebook and the forum. People have written wanting to help build the house. People have given me beloved things of theirs to make up for the beloved things I lost. People have left messages sobbing crying over the news on my phone. People have given me hugs and not asked me how I am because they already know. People have given me hugs and asked me how I am because they want to make sure I’m okay and have someone to talk to. People across the world put together pictures of themselves making a heart with their hands and then put those things all together to let me know there’s love out there and I’m not alone. People have given me handmade journals to replace the ones I’ve lost. People have reached out.
Can a simple smile to someone else change the course of history?
I have read stories where a person is about to kill themselves and someone random on the street smiles at them and it makes them feel like they are not alone anymore and it changes the course of history. I believe it.
You are all of my great teachers. And I hope you will understand the sheer capacity of what you reaching out to me has done. I hope you can understand the power you have had to radically affect my life for the better in a time when I needed it. These words are not enough. These words don’t express what I want to say to you. I wish you could just feel the emotions going through my body as I type these words. I wish you could tap into all that I’m feeling – the joy, the appreciation, the gratefulness, the lightness that takes over me in all of this. I am feeling this way because YOU affected me and changed my course of history. History has been molded by your careful, loving hands.
I had a two hour conversation with Emilie recently where we talked about all that you have done. “They are a true army,” she said. “An army of action.”
Last year, for my birthday, we held a Vampy Volunteers contest on the Veronica’s Kissing Army Forum.. And this year – it means even more to me. Because I now know what being on the other side of the fence is. I will be announcing the details on the forum soon. I hope you can take part in this, too.
We are all in this together.
Thank you for being you. Thank you for being people of ACTION.
Sending a love beam straight for your heart….. SOAK IT UP! Then go out there and have an awesome day in this world, wherever you are….my beloved traveling companions.
I am honored to walk beside you.