All of us are valuable, whether or not we realize it.
Our species is incredible. In a blink of cosmic time we've become the masters of our planet. We've had philosophers like Socrates, artists like Michelangelo, all-around geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci. We've constructed incredible monuments. We drive cars, we fly planes, and the space ship Voyager became the first man-made object to leave our solar system. I think that's amazing.
As a species we've come a long way, but in my dealings with people, I find that there are so many that have no faith in themselves. They've lost their inner happiness, and instead they are sad, discouraged, and very often angry at themselves for not being better. For me that's the wrong way of looking at things.
There are 7 billion of us sharing this planet. It could almost remind you of an anthill. It's a huge mass of humanity, but if you look closer you'll see that this mass consists of individuals. We, each one of us, represents humanity as a whole, and our society couldn't exist without us.
Our individual strengths, our views of the world, our hopes and dreams are a part of an intricate net that keeps our species going. For as long as we're alive we affect those around us, very often in ways we cannot begin to imagine.
I had an uncle once. He was the youngest of the 4 brothers and the clown of the family. I loved visiting him, his wife, and my cousins. He had 7 sisters as well, so family gatherings were a big deal. He was always the life of the party with all his great stories and jokes, but the thing that made the biggest impression on me was his warm, caring personality.
He was always there in a time of crisis. One of his older brothers passed away, and his widow wasn't the most popular member of our family. I had the impression at the time that everyone shunned her but him. He kept in contact, calling her and making sure that she was all right. To this day I'm still in awe of how he dealt with that situation. Everyone knew how wonderful this man was. Everyone but him.
On December 27th, 1978, he committed suicide. He was like a lot of people—unaware of their own self-worth, thinking that they're not good enough, believing that it wouldn't make any difference whether they live or die, or like my uncle, that the world would be a better place without them.
The truth is that we're all needed. We're all as precious as the rarest diamonds. We all have a contribution to make, however small we think it is. And we all matter, whether or not we see it. Each of is unique and brings something unique to the world. Even if that something is only a smile, it's enough. A genuine smile can make someone's day and change their life for the better. It might even save a life.
One of my best friends gave me a piece of advice once. He said that if I got up and felt lousy, just go to a mirror and make funny faces at myself. I've taken his advice, and it works. It looks so ridiculous that you can't help breaking into a smile. And it can affect others without you even being aware of it.
Recently, I dropped by a pub around the corner from where I live. I've known the bartender for a while and had the impression that he barely knew I existed. That evening he turned to me and said, "Mary Ann, you're an inspiration to all of us." I almost fell off my barstool. I hadn't done anything there other than smile and have normal conversations with the other people. It just goes to show that you never know how much of an impact you're making.
You're an incredible person. Your presence here is very significant. There are more people that love you than you imagine. Isn't that worth smiling about?