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I saw a post last night about a young girl who recently succumbed to cancer. She was only 13. She had appeared on “Ellen” twice that I saw, and was pretty much the proverbial ray of sunshine, bald head and all. Her attitude was amazing, and certainly worthy of imitation. If a dying girl can find a way to look past her circumstances and bring light and positivity to everyone she comes in contact with, why can’t I? My situation sucks, yes, but it’s no worse than hers was. She got cheated out of having a full life, and nothing is worse than that. I mean, I’m sure given her attitude her life was as full as it could have been, but you know what I mean. She’ll never grow up, get married, raise children…. She wanted to be a makeup artist, and she was one, in spite of her age. She had YouTube videos and support from Cover Girl. But imagine if she’d had another 30 years to improve her art. I am sad for her friends and family, and sad for the potential the world lost because she left it too soon. She managed to contribute something during her short time on this planet.

This kind of story always leads me to the inevitable “What do I contribute” line of thought, both in the larger sense (i.e. to the universe at large) and the smaller one (interpersonal relationships). I worry about both. When things get tough for me emotionally, I turn inward. I feel like a thundercloud, and I don’t necessarily want to rain gloom down on everyone I come into contact with, so I retreat. I don’t always feel like I am able to be there for my friends and loved ones in the way I’d like to be. And the few people I still turn to with the muck that fills my head? I worry about them most of all. I don’t want to be the friend who’s always emotionally needy, who offers nothing in return. I’ve had friends turn around and apologize after venting to me, because they feel they shouldn’t add to my burden, I guess. But if I can’t be there to listen, if all I ever do is cry on someone’s else’s shoulder, then the friendship is inequitable. On a deep level, I crave balance. I want my friends to feel like they can come to me, with anything. Because if they can’t, then what am I contributing to the relationship?

And the universe? In that case, “What do I contribute” could just as easily be rewritten as, “What is my purpose?” I don’t have the answer to that, either. I can tell you all the things I’m not, all the things I won’t be doing. No cures for cancer will be forthcoming, and I am unlikely to be instrumental in brokering world peace. So what then? Will my words someday impact people the world over? That would be incredible, wouldn’t it? Even having the ability to impact the 72 people who follow this blog would be something. It’s a starting place, at least.

My words do impact one person, and that person is me. Every time I sit down and write, pour my heart out on the screen, it changes me a little. The changes may not be obvious to everyone, but I feel them, inside where it counts. And no, I am not purely selfish, even if I feel that way sometimes. I want to contribute, to be a better friend, a better mom, a better wife. Maybe even a better citizen. Let’s hope I get there, one letter at a time.