It’s my birthday today. Always a time for reflection and looking ahead.
But this year, as I watch thousands of my countryfolk being killed, and over a million of them being forcibly displaced from their homes while our governments here in the West support it either through inaction or encouragement, it not only saddens and angers my heart, but it directs my thinking to one question.
What really matters?
What does what I do matter when the children we’ve supported through the charity I co-founded are either killed, maimed, orphaned or retraumatised by seeing what no human should see or go through? What matters in my comfortable day-to-day when that kind of suffering is going on?
And in that extreme darkness, I get to two places.
First, it takes me inwards. It forces me to ask what matters most to me. And the 4 things that come up most consistently are my family, the people who I have an impact on, my conscience and laughter.
… No days am I more content than when I have my wife and my 4 children with me. They have enriched my life beyond measure.
… No days do I feel more fulfilled than when I can see an impact on the people I have relationships with. Whether it’s laughter with family and friends, the flourishing (with or without my help) of people I’m supporting in the companies I’m fortunate to work with, or more poignantly the kids in Gaza in (relatively) better times playing with an iota of the joy that children should have.
… No nights do I sleep better than when I know I’ve done what I should, and could. And none more troubled than when I’ve done things that fail to meet what I’d hoped of myself. I’m grateful to have work which strives to make a positive difference; for the charity I co-founded that brings some respite and humanity to suffering children; for the organisations that allow me to play a national role in shaping activism for human rights.
… And no day is complete without laughter. Even in the darkest times, I’m grateful for the gift of being able to pull humour out of darkness, and occasionally inapproriateness!
But that short list makes me realise that in reality, *everything* matters.
… We are here. And we’re here now. We should all be doing what we can to make the lives of all around us, and especially those that suffer the most, better.
… That starts in our own society, in our own communities, in our own workplaces.
… And in reality, the only time it doesn’t matter is when it’s not about making lives better.
Which is why work matters most when it’s about leaving things better than when you found them – whether for one person or for humanity.
I’m looking forward this year to a startup I’m building with 2 people, and hopefully an expanding group, for whom values matter a lot, and who are on a similar journey to live up to them as much as we collectively can.
So my year is about making it matter. All of it.
And in there, there’s light. This year, I want to create light.