Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Piranha Effect

I recently had my 18th birthday party with friends and family. It was a great time, with laughing and celebrating the moments of my 18 years of life. I was once again reminded of the amazing family I have.

During dinner, my mother made a toast. She brought up a point that has been on my mind since the party. She noted that every single person sitting in the room had some how helped us get through the tough times in life. And it stuck in my mind: every person had done something during our journey that helped us to get through it. Whether it was donating a kidney, lending a helping hand, or simply writing a thoughtful note, everyone had some how helped us. It made me realize the immense power we have to help one another.

It sounds so simple, and it is, but it also such a big deal. We have an incredible opportunity as humans to help one another. The idea that one person can make someone's day brighter or pick up a friend from a dark time is amazing to me.

As I am writing I am remembering a funny story from when I was in the 7th grade. One of my favorite teachers, Mr. Bowen, who was my 7th grade science teacher, always thought highly of my family for our strength. That was the year I was in kidney failure, and my transplant was that summer. He was going to retire the next year, and was slowly clearing out all of the stuff in his room. 

He called me out of class one day to come to his room so he could give something to me. I wasn't sure what he was going to say, and so I was curious as I walked through the door. He had a gift bag with tissue paper in it, and showed me a statue of a piranha that had been in his room for years. He told me that it reminded him of my family--he said that by itself, it's just a fish, but in a group they are strong and work together well. I was touched to have received such a meaningful gift from one of my favorite teachers.

The idea of a group of piranhas being powerful and strong reminds me of the simple idea of helping. One person lending some help is nice, but a group of human beings helping one another creates something amazing, something worth living for, something that could be seen in that room at my birthday party.

We are taught to help each other from the time we are in kindergarten, and it is a habit that we must remember. An act of kindness every day from all of us can make an incredible difference in the world.