Impact is often unseen
Imagine watching scenes of a world without you. Every since I was a girl as small as Zuzu, I have loved “It’s A Wonderful Life.” As seasons have passed, I have come to more deeply appreciate the message of this story: the far-reaching impact of one life.
"It's a Wonderful Life” begins with the lead character, George Bailey, contemplating suicide at age 38. It's a heavy start to a holiday movie. It’s raw. But it’s real. George was on the brink of financial ruin, struggling in his relationships, and lacking a sense of purpose in his work. When he compared himself to his peers' accomplishments, he didn't believe he measured up. These are not the fictions of a movie plot—they are struggles of humanity.
Feeling pressed and pulled on all sides, George is desperate and unsure he can carry on. His attempt to end his life is interrupted before he makes a decision he cannot undo. Before plunging over the bridge he is given a rare glimpse into how radically different (and markedly worse) the world would be if he was not part of it. This visit to an alternative universe snapped his attention and altered his perception. He realized that his presence on the planet mattered—a lot.
We don't get to watch the reel of what this world would be like without us. Still, we need to live, love, and work knowing that it will count in ways that we will never fully know. We rarely get to see the full effect of our influence – however small or seemingly insignificant. Consider this: a single conversation or statement can alter the trajectory of someone's entire life. In turn, they will go on to impact countless others.
Impact is often unseen. In clinical practice, I often know my losses but most victories are invisible to me—and always will be. Therapeutic transformation isn't limited to what I witness in real-time when a client sits in my office. The real magic occurs when clients walk out my door and go on to lead altered lives years after our last session. The gains I do get to witness spur me forward. I press on because I trust the process. I stay centered on my what and my why—in all roles, all spaces, for everyone whose path intersects with mine.
I live in my own Bedford Falls.
You do too.
This holiday, I'm not sure where you see yourself in the arc of the "It's a Wonderful Life" plot. Maybe you are the man on the bridge, depressed and discouraged. Perhaps, your heart mirrors the joy of the closing scene.
Regardless of where you are today, remember: YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN ONE LIFE.
It's not guaranteed to be an easy life. Often, it won’t seem fair. You aren't promised an existence without struggle, pain, or disappointment.
But this one life you have—it is a gift. A powerful one. And that is a truly wonderful thing.