Children love throwing pebbles into the water and watching the ripples spread out. The ripple effect is how I conceive of my contribution everywhere on the Internet.
What I loved about being a public librarian was the opportunity to throw thousands of pebbles over the years. Handing the right book to a child going through a difficult time could be worth months of therapy. A ten -minute conversation with a distressed mom can help her reframe her problems with her children. Fifteen minutes coaxing elders to try the internet can open up the world for them. Guiding frightened new cancer patients to local support groups and the latest research might lessen their fear.
I preferred being a librarian to being a social worker. Insurance companies compel therapists to put numbers on people; librarians only number the books. So many public librarians considered being social workers, not realizing that they already are.
I once treated a young Irishman struggling with gay identity issues. Introducing him to James Baldwin was my crucial intervention. A late friend, a ER psychiatric social worker at a large municipal hospital, had an office filled with books that he gives away. Chris believed many people experiencing the spiritual emergency of acute mental distress need a good listener and the right book, not hospital admission and mind-dulling drugs.
Being a La Leche leader from 1977 to 1987 was a deeply rewarding way to create ripples. My name and phone number were on posters all over 3 towns. People were invited to call me 24/7 for breastfeeding advice. No one ever abused that offer. The few late nights calls I got were important. Many more mothers who should have called didn’t.In the days before cordless phones, I needed a phone cord that stretched anywhere downstairs, from the front to the back door. Otherwise, I would be giving advice on sore nipples and improper latching, and my kids would be painting themselves purple, making magic potions for their baby sister, or decorating the playroom with talcum power and destine.
I counseled many hundreds of women in meetings and over the phone in Bangor, Maine, and Long Island..Often enough I will meet someone who insists I look very familiar. After exchanging our life stories, we realize I was her La Leche League leader. Or I was the helpful librarian whose name she never knew. Public librarians tend to be anonymous handmaidens and angels.
I have always wanted to change the world. As I age, I realize my legacy is to make ripples, one pebble at a time. Each of us is doing when we blog, and we will never know how far our ripples expand.Ratings and comments and editor’s picks don’t measure ripples.
Bobbot, a fellow blogger on Open Salon, has kindly given me permission to include his comment, which expresses my ideas better than Wilbur or I did.
The ripples are not affected by accolades. They spread even beyond our ability to see them still making minute changes as far as the body of water they are in goes then, even though no longer perceptible they return to where they came from. That is the legacy, change even imperceptible is still change and that will not be undone.