Doing Good.

The sore throat started around 5 p.m., and I’ve been on the couch slurping chicken soup and hot tea while editing a podcast (more on that next week) and checking Twitter. It’s fascinating to me that I’m feeling run-down–it happens around this same time every year, actually–because just today I was feeling like a low-grade panic attack was just bubbling beneath my surface. Now I have a physical manifestation of my stress.

And since I know writing helps, even when it’s bad writing, I’m here trying to purge some of the panic.

I read this article last week, three days before I received the news that a former student died in a car crash.

I can’t go to this young man’s funeral, but I can go to the viewing. I never met his parents and didn’t teach any of his siblings. But I taught and knew many of his friends, and on the off chance one or two of them is there and needs a hug or a smile or a reminder that their friend made an impression on me, that’s reason enough to go. I don’t feel an acute personal loss, much like the writer in this article, but I hope my small gesture brings a small bit of comfort to people in mourning.

This line has been on my mind for the past several days:

“In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”

Doing nothing is so much easier, because I assume that no one will notice or care whatever gesture I’m willing to make, whether it’s printing off notes for a student or telling someone she’s wearing a cute outfit or smiling at a stranger. Doing nothing requires no effort, no risk.

But I’m foolish to assume a small gesture of good doesn’t affect those around me. I don’t know, and I might never know, what impact an insignificant (to me) gesture might mean to someone else. Because in the battle between doing good and doing nothing, I want to always do good.

And in this moment, right now, at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night near the beginning of the school year, that means drinking one last mug of tea and going to bed early. Because if I’m sick, I’m not good for much.


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