We’ve all said it, “it’s the thought that counts.” I have said it when I get a gift I don’t love, it’s what we whisper to our siblings when our adorable grandma gives us a sweater we will never wear for Christmas. We say it when someone tells us, “I almost got that for you” or “I almost came out to see your show.” It’s usually said half-heartedly, when we don’t want to offend somebody, or when we are trying to make ourselves feel better.
I have faith in words and original thoughts and what they can contribute to the world. As a person who spends a lot of time in my head, thinking about things, and someone who devotes time to writing my thoughts down; I know that thoughts do count for something. But I’m not convinced that the thought is what really counts.
It isn’t the thought that counts when you’re talking about love. If someone loves me, I don’t want them to keep it to themselves. I don’t want to miss out on that knowledge. Love wasn’t meant to be a thought, a flicker in the back of your mind when a certain song comes on, or when you see a couple holding hands in the park. Love was meant to be lived. People share love, they make love, they speak love. Love isn’t just a thought, it was meant to be an action. It was meant to be lived out every day. Thinking about loving someone and loving someone is not the same thing.
Thinking about doing something generous and actually doing something generous are two different things. Thinking about how you should’ve given the man on the corner the three bucks sitting in the ashtray of your car while you’re avoiding even giving him a smile while driving past him doesn’t do anything, the condition of the person you’re thinking about helping doesn’t improve. Thinking about giving up some of your time to help an elderly couple in your neighborhood carry their groceries into their house and actually offering to help are two different things. Thinking about donating money to the ASPCA every time a sad puppy commercial comes on and actually donating are two different things. Thinking about doing something and actually doing something are not the same thing. I think in some ways we have been giving ourselves credit in areas we don’t yet deserve it. The inflation of our ego is enough to get us from one day to another.
I don’t think that me sitting in my room and writing down the thoughts I have is going to change the world. I don’t think that talking about ways I want to improve the world in the time I have here is going to change it. The people that have changed the world didn’t just talk about changing the world- they just did it. Not because they wanted recognition or fame, they just needed to know that they left the world a better place than how they found it. I am fearful of what steps I might have to take to turn my thoughts into actions. I think maybe we are all a little scared of what might be required of us to make the world the place we think it should be. We look to presidents and world leaders and humanitarians to make the world a better place without being willing to change anything ourselves. The world doesn’t become a better place just because we think about all the ways we should improve it. The world doesn’t change unless we do.
Our minds are powerful things. They create big and bold ideas. Our thoughts are wonderful and important. I think the world would improve though if we let the wonderful thoughts be stepping stones of action. I am still a work in progress in this department. I'm fearful and hesitant but I find myself closer to where I want to be everyday.
Rome wasn't built in a day. One thought turned action isn’t going to change the world overnight. In the words of the brilliant John Keating in Dead Poets Society, “words and ideas can change the world.” The world doesn't change because you crossed your fingers and hoped for the best. The times we have seen the most hope and positive change in the world isn't when people thought about changing it. The world has seen the most positive change when people fight for their ideas and change with their own two hands. It isn't just the thought that counts when they stakes are so high.
Let your ideas become actions, and leave the world better than how you found it.