Often the enormity and callousness of the day’s events leave us feeling disconnected and dispirited — powerless to make a difference. “The problems are so, so big,” we say to ourselves. “There’s nothing I can do.”
Have you ever gone camping and tried to start a fire? You know the story: You can’t find wood; no one brought any newspaper; it starts to rain. But you scrape together some supplies, clear a spot, and find a few matches in the bottom of someone’s backpack. Wow, those matches look old. And it sure is raining.
You strike one, two, three — they all fizzle out. With a single match left, you adjust a piece of cardboard, your friend holds her hand just right, your buddy mumbles an offering to the Universe (or was he cursing?), and you strike it. Shazam — it catches. You have to scramble for the first few minutes to keep it lit, and a gust of wind nearly sends the whole thing down the hill. But after a few minutes your little fire is going pretty well. After ten minutes you’re warming your hands, and after 15 you take off your jacket.