I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan. My #1 life hero is Pirate #21 Roberto Clemente. Roberto died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972. He was taking emergency relief supplies from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua after a hurricane.
My favorite Roberto quote is:
“If you have an opportunity to accomplish something that will make things better for someone coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.”
As time has gone on, I have often pondered that quote. I wonder how I – and other “everyday folk” like me – can fit this goal into daily life.
I’ve often thought that what Roberto was doing was a great way of making things better for someone coming behind. Sadly, neither I nor anyone I know is able to donate relief supplies. We don’t even have a plane!
I then thought about volunteering. There are so many places and ways to volunteer. One can tutor children, walk dogs, work at a food bank, visit veterans, etc. Volunteering teaches us to look beyond ourselves and consider the needs of others. It also allows us to share our gifts of talent and time – something many people feel they currently don’t have – with others.
There are lots of ways I can make someone else’s day better. I like the poem “Smile” by Barbara Hauck. I know that a pebble thrown into a lake makes ripples a long way out.
Can we smile at someone today? Smiling is good for our emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.
How about telling someone that they have a wonderful smile?
Can we open a door for someone?
Can we sweep a neighbor’s sidewalk?
Can we listen – really listen – to a loved one or a neighbor who has a problem?
Can we look into the eyes of another person and show compassion?
I would like to be in the position to do big, great things for those coming behind me. But, I won’t wait for that day to come. Today, I will do something to help make another’s day better.
How about you? What will you do today?
Be a positive ripple. I believe Roberto would approve.
P.S. You have a wonderful smile!
Bonnie Houston is a certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner and the coordinator of Fairweather Lodge, a voluntary, employment-focused, Pittsburgh Mercy rehabilitation and residential program for persons in recovery.
Feature photo of Roberto Clemente mural by Jeremy Raymer. Photo by Barbara Krause. The 2 1/2-story mural is located at Madison Avenue and Peralta Street in the East Deutschtown neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side.