I am quite sure that under the term ‘nice guy’ in the dictionary, you would likely find a photo of my cousin, Michael.
It is easy to describe Michael – because it is all good. As a young man, he went to a great college, joined a great fraternity, graduated with a solid degree, and secured a great job right out of the chute. He is typical tall, dark, and handsome – with a penchant for smiling. Today, he is a wonderful family man with equally wonderful family members. He is calm and responsible with that caring demeanor the rest of the world envies. He has a stellar career, is involved heavily in his community, and happens to be a rather good athlete.
He lives a thousand miles away from me. And over the past 40+ years, I have been fortunate to have spent a week-long summer vacation each year with Michael. Sometimes the vacation is longer; occasionally it is shorter. With all that time together, I thought I knew him as well as anyone might.
But I was wrong.
Turns out . . . he is willingly . . . goofy. Yes . . . goofy.
As an adult, it’s tough to be openly and enthusiastically . . . goofy. Children can be goofy and all is well. Goofy dancing in the grocery store at age three – great! Goofy attire in junior high – great! Singing goofy songs loudly at high school football games – great! For youngsters, it is all great to be goofy. In fact, we often encourage the goofiness in our youth as a way of increasing those crazy-funny moments in our lives that lead us to laughter, hilarity, and merriment. I readily admit that my day is brighter when I run across the goofy-side of the world. Goofy is fun. But goofy isn’t all that common once we exit our childhood and enter that mysterious adulthood.
I am not quite sure what my definition of goofy has been, but rarely if ever, would I have associated that term with my cousin, Michael . . . until recently.
Michael is a charitable guy. He works hard at service to others. And he isn’t one to want the recognition that comes along with his actions. In fact, he usually likes to be in the background – doing his thing to help in any way possible. It turns out that Michael is the chair of a fund-raising event in his home town. It is a great cause and a good, solid charity. It is in need of funds. It always is in need of funds as there are more folks who need assistance than current funds available. So, from my vantage point, it looks like Michael has been asked to lead the efforts in his community to reach a fundraising goal.
And, lo and behold, captured via camera, the world was introduced to his goofy side. With photos forever etching the moment, Michael is seen standing dressed up in a full-fledged, head to toe Superman costume -including cape – standing in that well-known Superman-pose that had me do a double take when I saw it.
I laughed . . . and chuckled . . . and smiled. Michael – in a Superman costume – goofy as can be – putting himself out there for a cause.
Working on causes . . . charitable ones . . . philanthropy . . . isn’t easy for many reasons.
First, the opportunities are endless. There are hundreds to thousands of great causes – and each one of them deserves assistance. Narrowing the scope and finding a good fit is nearly impossible. There are local charities, state-wide causes, national organizations, and activities that may have personal ties. There are opportunities to volunteer time, opportunities that require specific skills and those that just seek donations. All of them require some type of effort in achieving their goals, and all of them are worthy, but how do we, as humans, make selections?
To add to the dilemma, the older I become, the more I see a world in great need. From children to adults, the number of people facing daily challenges seems to be growing and growing and growing. In fact, that number seems to far outweigh the number of folks who can assist. As a teenager, I was just sure that by the time I entered my later years, I would see a reduction or elimination of the suffering, hunger, or poverty in the world. How could that not happen?
I recall thinking – and probably chanting at some rally during the 70s – that if I was not part of the solution, then I was part of the problem. Thus, reaching out and helping was and is the only direction to take. And as I have aged, I continue to pursue more opportunities to make differences. But, it doesn’t seem to be making even the slightest dent in the world. For all of us, it can be disheartening to try so hard to make the world a better place, knowing that the fruits of our labors may come to fruition years, decades, centuries down the road.
And that is where my thoughts of Michael enter the picture.
Sometimes to make that difference in the world – to be a part of the solution – to help those in need – we have to step outside our normal and average selves and go for it! If that means slipping over to our goofy side and dressing like Superman, then so be it! If utilizing that sometimes inert goofiness inside all of us positively changes the world just one iota, then we all should strive to engage in the goofy more often. I can think of no better use of crazy-funny actions than to save the world.
The willingness of others, like Michael, to be goofy to serve the greater good is, well, motivating. If one person helps for one moment or gives one dollar more because of one action on the part of one person doing something relatively out of character, I am grateful and forever indebted.
So, today, I say . . . bring on the goofy.