by Patrick McNerthney
A great way to judge our impact on the world is to examine what we leave behind, which in my case is apparently called the Trail of Destruction. For example, when I’m invited to someone’s house, I leave behind Doritos crumbs, possibly a few broken dishes and certainly the absence of an invitation back.
(It was broken when I got there I swear)
Our individual trail provides objective evidence of what is important to us despite what we say (it’s that whole “actions speak louder than words” thing). Sometimes this evidence points toward a commitment or posture of making things better for others; sometimes not (uh oh, sorry about those dishes). Ideally we all leave behind a legacy of awesomeness. But it’s easy to leave nothing behind, no trail or impact– we’re too busy tweeting, posting, searching for a new app, going to meetings or walking around with the Fear of Missing Out to bother leaving any evidence that we came, we saw and we cared. What the heck? Our activities might not leave tangible results, but we do them nonetheless – possibly because they’re a way to feel like we’re accomplishing something without putting anything on the line.
I for one want to leave contrails in the sky like a jet at 40,000 feet. Well, how about something more permanent even? Let’s go with…I want to leave fossilized footprints of my passing that some gorgeous archeologist finds in 2,000 years when Seattle is a series of sand caves inhabited by worm people…and after fighting off the worm people to find evidence of my existence the archeologist wonders what I was like, and I whisper, “Awesome” through the breeze, and she smiles. And we get married. Don’t tell my wife.
(Too lofty of an ambition?)
Sorry about that. I think I started hallucinating.
So once we decide to get off our phones and make an impact…well, sometimes we screw up. My peer who is a caregiver recently shared this video with me. It’s her favorite example of how our best intentions to make positive change for the elderly can backfire:
The irony here is in our effort to leave behind connection and possibility, we sometimes accidentally leave people behind, or make them feel passed by. In this case it’s exacerbated by the well-intended incorporation of technology to theoretically provide what’s needed in our absence, not knowing that instead the technology is creating yet another barrier because it turns out it’s not that easy to adapt to.
Oops. Not the impact we were seeking…. As caregivers we’d rather leave behind a legacy of inspiration for our clients, while creating feelings of belonging, confidence and joy.
This is where Fine Art Miracles can help. Creative expression is shown to inspire the elderly to talk about and demonstrate what they have done, reconnecting them with their past and their trail, which increases self-esteem, self-worth and stimulates parts of the brain that fight off loneliness and depression.
But it doesn’t stop there. The act of working with Art Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy and Music Therapy provides those we seek to serve a way to experience inclusion through active contribution. It’s a huge opportunity to not feel left behind. All of which demonstrates that sought after possibility, the number one way to stave off loneliness during this time of increased social isolation.
In the meantime, I’d better go help clean up those Doritos crumbs and buy my friend some new dishes…