We had an amazing Sunday, where we took our now 6 year old (sniffle..she’s getting too big too fast), out for a marathon of a day in New York City. Although it was her day of “magical fun,” she actually gave me a magical lesson.
Just a little background story, last year on her 5th birthday, I took her on a Mommy & Me trip to India. She had gotten to a point in her life where she would walk into someone’s house and ask “where’s your toy room?” I am such an advocate of giving back and volunteer work, to think my own child was being influenced by a life of luxury; it was a big wake up call for me. So I made the decision to take her to India. For some fun of course, but also to expose her to the culture, the poverty, and hopefully, to humble her and mostly me; to be grateful for what we already have, but also to find a way to give back some more.
That trip changed both our lives forever. She came back and wanted to give back to the poor kids in India, who lived without lights, without homes and most importantly without warm food. We came up with an idea that at her birthday party, instead of favors, we’d make a donation to the Association for India’s Development (AID). She also shared this story with her Kindergarten class and interested many kids in giving back to their communities right here where we live.
This year at dinner, she asked, “if we were young a long time ago, would we be in the school for dark colored people or light colored people.” My husband and I offered our answers, part in shock that we were going to have this profound conversation with our 6 year old. And part proud that the next day was Martin Luther King’s birthday, and this conversation would be in his honor. We said, the dark school. We explained, both schools were fine to be in, but the main point is the world should not have been divided. The world was divided by people who had darkness in their hearts. She was able to relate the “darkness in their hearts” to the fear that Elsa had in the movie Frozen; A person who was afraid of being herself, and needed to keep everyone separate.
As if this entire conversation wasn’t inspiring enough, my daughter asked, “why is it when we go to India, all the kids and people come to our cars and ask for money?” I explained that they don’t have homes, their parents don’t have money or jobs, so they need to beg and hope they can raise enough money to be able to eat.
We also explained that its not just in India, that today in New York there were people laying on the cold ground because they have no homes, no food, no blankets or coats. She responded with, “How can we help them, I don’t want them to be like that?” I answered her with, “Well you do help; you gave toys, pajamas and coats to the drive at school.”
Then it got better, “A big way to help is to find your purpose, the thing you love doing and feel you were meant to do. And when you find out what it is, you do it, do it with love, hope and happiness, and by doing that, you can help others. For example, Mommy knows that being a physical therapist is my purpose. I help people who are hurting and can’t do what they want to do. When they get better, they go back to helping people, however they do it, whether they are doctors, singers, or teachers and by doing this we can all make the world better.”
Seems simple enough and yet so many of us don’t know, don’t acknowledge, don’t follow our true purpose in life. I am very grateful to have found mine. I challenge you to find yours and follow it, if not to make this world a better place, then to teach our children to be a cause in the matter; one person at a time.