EDIT: I won an HP Magic giveaway on Chris Pirillo's site ( link later when it is not the middle of the night). This makes me in-eligible for Sugar Jone's contest. However, I have already met some amazing people and Sugar has given me permission to continue to network with others. I won the contest I did, because of the power and reach of my network of friends and contacts. I will always believe in the power of reaching out to help someone without thought of reward, because eventually it really does come back to you. It is all very surreal right now, I am sure I will have more to share later on. If you are here to network and find other people whose lives you can change, read on and comment. I will reply. If you were hoping to just "gain points" by commenting, feel free to skip this and move on to the next link.
There is great clarity in my mind that one of the things I am best at is being a bridge. Bridges are structures that help to overcome an obstacle or clear a path from one thing to another. We usually think of bridges as wooden, or metal, or perhaps even rope. The word evokes different mental images in different people perhaps a large spanning structure, like the golden gate bridge. Maybe your mental picture is an old log you used to use to cross a stream in the woods when you were a child. For others, the word bridge calls up a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, with a precarious rope bridge barely attached to a cliff over a deep canyon. If you are really a geek, you might even be picturing a bridge in an electrical circuit- essential for converting energy from AC to DC. But I say that some of the most important bridges in our world today are the human ones.
None of us can fix all the problems in the world. None of us can help all the people who need assistance, or provide resources to everyone who needs it. We do all the small things we can to make our immediate world a better place- feed the family next door, donate used clothes or toys, lend a helping hand at the local soup kitchen and we can see the changes around us. It changes the lives of the people we touch and it changes our lives by reaching out. These are so important. In our immediate family, we work hard to teach our children to donate outgrown clothes and toys, to collect cans for canned food drives, to donate time to local animal shelters or to help fight teen drug abuse. They see us donate blood, vote in elections and take an active stance in the community we live in. Those are all incredibly important and I would not want any of them to stop.
But some problems are bigger than what we can tackle on a personal level. Some problems exceed our own personal resources ( time, money, location, mobility) and leave us feeling frustrated. This is where you can become a bridge. You may not have the time to donate to a local animal shelter, but you know three people who do and you can connect them. You may not have the money to put a new roof on someone's house, but you know of an agency who assists and you get them in touch. You may not be able to grow an extra row in a garden, because your yard is too small... but you know someone at your church or school who has a huge yard.
In the internet age, it is easier than ever to see potential connections. How often have you been online and thought.. "wow, how ironic. I just read about someone trying to figure out how to get rid of their old bed without a truck.. and now this person is blogging about needing a bed. What a weird world this is." Instead, be proactive. Introduce the person without a truck to the person needing a bed. It does not have to be a formal introduction... maybe just passing on a blog note, or a quick tweet reply to point someone in the right direction. Don't assume that just because you read something on the internet, everyone else knows it is there. The internet is a big big place, awash in information that often only small numbers of people see.
In the normal course of your online browsing, chatting, blogging and tweeting, take a minute.. when you see a potential connection- be a bridge. You don't need money or the ability to travel, or to even be well enough to leave the house. You just need to be willing to speak up and point out the connections you are seeing. Convert the crazy alternating current of energy flowing around us into a direct current that can take action and solve problems. Be a bridge and be astounded with how good you end up feeling with all that energy flowing through you.
note: this entry is published in response to a request for the HP Magic give away contest being hosted by the Living-in Theory Blog. If you are interested in what I would do with such great computer loot, you can check out an earlier blog post I wrote on the HP Magic Contest.