Difference is as Difference Does

I don’t know about you but for me the movie Forrest Gump is chalk full of great quotes: “That’s all I have to say about that.” “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” “Stupid is as stupid does.”

That last one took me some time to really see the meaning behind the words. It wasn’t just a comeback to being called stupid. It was an introspective look at what is really stupid and what could be called legitimately stupid. What Forrest’s wise mama was teaching him was that the action can be stupid but without the action it cannot be ascribed that title.

The same goes for making a difference. Without action no difference is ever made. Actions that help the environment, animals, and other humans is what makes the difference. People can talk all day about solving problems, but until someone gets up out of chair and goes out and does action, no real difference is ever made. So I had to really look at myself and ask what actions am I doing to make a difference?

If you have followed my previous posts, you already know some of the things I have implemented as permanent changes in my life (vegetarian, recycling, reducing waste, etc.). These have all been actions but they have been somewhat passive actions. By that I mean that they are actions that I take that affect primarily me, my family, and my home. I have not ventured out much beyond my bubble to produce action in my community, city, state, or country. I want this to change. I want to be the change. The change starts here.

About 8 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer’s. Last year she had to move into my parent’s home for full-time supervision. This summer, that has transitioned to full-time care. Our family has been in crisis mode now for 14 months. The thing is during crisis mode, survival at all cost kicks in. Whatever can be done to make one area of life easier so energies can be focused in other areas is done regardless of cost. I help my parents out two days a week so they can have the freedom to do other tasks that daily life requires (grocery shopping, home repairs, appointments, etc.) or even just a quiet lunch out together. Unfortunately there is a lot of waste that happens when taking care of an elderly person, from adult diapers to plastic bottles of nutritional drinks. My father has always been and still is an avid recycler, but neither of my parents have embraced the ‘reduce’ part of the formula. My mom uses retail therapy to cope with the mounting pressures of taking care of grandma. So from an environmental standpoint, there is not much positive happening with this situation. To be honest, I don’t care.

Providing a healthy, safe environment for my grandma to spend her few remaining days is much more important to me at this moment than advocating for the environment. Does that mean I have gone back to using plastic straws and plastic shopping bags? NO WAY! I will keep implementing these and other changes because I can. My parents have much bigger issues to deal with right now than making their own soap or household cleaners.

Those of us who are able-bodied and not dealing with a major medical crisis in our homes are the ones who need to be even more vigilant about our choices that impact the environment to help soften the impact of those who just can’t right now. I have seen repeated arguments over the plastic straw ban vs disabled people who depend on them. There is a compromise. I’m living it on a much smaller scale with my family right now. Those who are able to should do everything in their power to make our environment cleaner and healthier. Those who can’t (sick, elderly, disabled) should be allowed to take full advantage of modern conveniences without being shamed or guilted. This is the balance that all life requires.

As for actions, I could be the plastic, water conservation, zero chemical nazi at my parent’s house two days a week, but I’m not. Instead I am leading a team to participate in a fundraising walk to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. I have not walked to raise money for anything my entire adult life. This is definitely outside my bubble, but it is still a very personal cause. I am positive this walk will not be an zero-waste event, however I hope that the money raised will help to find better treatments and eventually a cure that will have a bigger positive environmental impact than this fundraiser.

This shift in my perspective is huge for me. I have always been a very black/white, all/nothing kind of thinker. This risk analysis kind of thinking is opening up a whole new world for me and making me a hopefully more kind, understanding, and compassionate person. I want to be a ‘difference is as difference does’ person.

If you would like to help make a difference and donate to my fundraiser walk please go to this link:


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