Writing, daffodil bulbs and being a catalyst for change

I’ve been having a bit of a frenzied few months, covering Fringe Fest, traveling to Western Massachusetts to visit family, doing improv, taking classes.

What I haven’t been doing is writing.

I’m on deadline for my next book – that feels weird to even say that, “my next book”, as if my last book was some sort of literary milestone. It’s just a collection of previously published columns, with one new piece written after my dog died. It was done more for me than anything else, to put a period at the end of a difficult, depressing, and unfruitful time in my life. It let me say, “Here, I accomplished this in the midst of the turmoil, and now I’m on to bigger and better things.”

It’s a little thing. It’s nothing.

I’ve been doing a lot of research for this next book, which feels like an actual writing project that’s going to be worthy of the effort. A book I authored. But I’m rabbit trailing while searching at Newspapers.com, and reading books and filling the pages with sticky notes to mark trivial bits of info I want to go back to. I’ve got piles of files of stories I want to include but none of the stories actually written yet.

The book is a collection of stories about people buried in Rochester who made contributions to science, society, entertainment…or just have weird and interesting stories.

Mostly the latter, because I love a good weird story, a tale of a totally random action that sets in motion something that changes the world.

Like the story in the video above, about educator Stephen Ritz, who turned his classroom in to a garden and transformed his students’ lives.

Here’s my question: who gave him the daffodil bulbs?

You know, the bulbs someone sent to him that he hid behind the radiator? The bulbs that blossomed and attracted his students’ attention? The bulbs that were the catalyst for the idea to turn the classroom into a garden that became the non-profit Green Bronx Machine that transformed a community?

Stephen Ritz is an amazing educator, the kind of person every school needs. I’m sure his ideas didn’t hinge entirely on those daffodil bulbs; he would have come up with an amazing, community-transforming program anyway.

But he cites those daffodil bulbs specifically in the story, doesn’t he?

That’s the weird thing that caught my attention, and reminded me that no matter how small our acts of kindness are, they can be the catalyst for huge change. Life-transforming change. Community-wide change.

Think about that the next time you’re moved to do something small for someone else – gift a gift, hold a door, say a kind word, help with a chore or errand. It might be the spark that changes the world.

It’s nice to think that maybe my little book, the one that I put together really for myself and dismiss as nothing special, may benefit one person, even if it’s to make them laugh – or give them permission to cry.

Maybe not so little after all?

I’ll leave you with this quote from Cardinal John Newman. It’s one of my favorites, and if you read this blog regularly I’m sure it will be familiar to you. When I feel like I need to hear it, I like to share it with you, in case you need it too:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”


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