This morning, I read a stirring article in the Chicago Tribune about the “Above and Beyond” memorial – a Vietnam War homage consisting of 58,000 dog tags representing all of the servicemen and women who died in this tragic war. The sobering display, wherein the dog tags were hung from the ceiling like wind chimes, could be viewed at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago until it relocated a year ago.
Now, Above and Beyond sits in dusty boxes in a basement with no place to call home. Apparently there’s no room at the new location, and rumors of a traveling exhibit or a move to the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center have not materialized.
In essence, our society has failed to make room for this incredibly meaningful and important tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country.
I couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of things we gladly make room for in our society instead of making room for something like Above and Beyond. Shopping malls? Hookah lounges? Places where vanity and meaningless indulgences abound?
I fear that our society’s refusal to make room for Above and Beyond is a large-scale representation of the way we fail to make room for what’s really important in our own lives. Take a moment and consider what might be taking up space in your own routine. Unnecessary material items? Unhealthy habits? How about negativity? These things waste space, time, and energy that are finite for each of us.
Now imagine removing those things that crowd your own existence and making room for what’s really important to you. How would you fill that new space in your life? With distractions or with things that matter? What would your life look like then? Imagine the possibilities.
I’ve begun this process in my own life by taking stock of what’s really important and restructuring my life around those priorities. I wanted to start this off with a bang, so my husband and I are spending New Year’s Eve packing food boxes for malnourished kids by volunteering at Feed My Starving Children. We made room for what’s important to us, even on an evening where it might seem as though there isn’t room for anything other than champagne and sparkly hats.
In the coming year, let’s make room for what’s really important. Let’s make room for faith instead of frivolity. Family and friends instead of video games. Healthy choices instead of unhealthy patterns. Love instead of hate. Serving others instead of ourselves.
And how about making room for the Above and Beyond memorial instead of another shopping mall while we’re at it? If we can make room for something this important, I think it’s going to be a pretty special year for all of us.
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