Please Help Me Build Something

Comments 14
bald eagle
(Image/Christopher Martin)

NOTE: I try hard to not ask you for things.

That’s not how I want this relationship to work.

But today, I must.

Because someone who matters to me asked for my help. And only you can make it possible.

You can skip the storytelling and contribute to something deserving and meaningful.

Or you can learn why I care. Because context matters.

We’d haul buckets full of water and live fish to the barn where my grandfather had built a fish-cleaning station.

There, I’d watch him club the heads of fish to kill them before I’d help him descale and filet them. Later, we’d have a fish fry.

The meals were delicious. The process was routine if I was fishing with grandpa. I didn’t think or feel much about it at all. It was just the way we did things.

My third-grade son and I recently started fishing together. I’m not sure what took me so long.

I asked him the question: “When we catch fish, do you want to keep and eat them, or release them back into the lake?”

He insta-answered: “I want to put them back.”

I was glad. Because I didn’t want to club fish heads.

I don’t judge people who fish for food. And I promise I’ll fish for food any time a food shortage or survival situation calls for it. But so long as I have access to a nice seafood counter at my local market, I’m cool with not intentionally killing fish myself.

I didn’t think about things like that when I was in third grade.

But my little boy does.

Years ago, so did another boy growing up in Minnesota. When he was in third grade, a representative of a raptor (birds of prey, not dinosaurs!) educational outreach program visited his school.

The speaker invited the boy to approach the live eagle perched on their arm.

It was Scott’s first close encounter with a raptor.

And it changed him forever.

The Subtle Art of Achieving Balance

One of my dearest childhood friends went through divorce about a year after me.

My divorce was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

Her divorce was maybe the fourth- or fifth-worst thing to happen to her, because she has survived Life Things that destroy people, leaving most of us in perpetual states of identity crisis and disrepair.

When we take enough damage, breathing and moving ceases to mean we’re alive.

My friend knew she wasn’t really alive anymore. Sometimes, we just break.

I’ve been broken.

In her search for balance, she enrolled in a program designed to help people achieve the kind of Mind, Body and Spirit balance that allows humans to thrive.

The process has been transformative.

I see and hear the changes in the things she writes and says.

The final step in her journey was to team with others as part of her leadership training to create something meaningful by enlisting the help of at least 100 people.

She joined 16 others to form the team who would choose Children and Environment as focal points for their final project.

Scott, the third grader from Minnesota who turned his eagle encounter into a lifelong passion for learning about and protecting birds of prey into his adulthood, just happened to be part of her team.

It Means: ‘To Seize’

The word Raptor—that is the classification of large birds of prey which includes eagles, falcons, hawks, osprey, owls, etc.—is derived from the Latin word Rapere, which means “to seize” or “to take by force.”

I see my friend taking her life back. Seizing moments. It’s a big deal.

And in Charlotte, N.C., she serendipitously met 16 like-minded souls willing to unite and work for something that mattered.

They’re going to build—with their hands—a large outdoor playground on the grounds of the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, N.C., just north of Charlotte.

Something lasting. Something for children. Something that serves the big-picture mission of ecological balance most of us rarely pause to think about. (Here’s an entry-level primer on how raptors help balance ecosystems.)

They are raising money to pay for the raw materials, hardware, and tools needed to complete the project.

Maybe you care about raptor conservation. Maybe you care about children. Maybe you’d like to do me a personal favor.

Maybe you just like helping people. I hope so.

I didn’t need a reason other than someone who was fundamental to my character development, who has always been there for me, and who I have NEVER seen on the wrong side of a kindness argument say: “Can I please ask you for a favor?”

I should have known it wouldn’t be about her.

Help My Friend, Children, and Life Flourish

Please show others what’s possible by making the Carolina Raptor Center Playground a reality. No amount is too small.

14 thoughts on “Please Help Me Build Something”

  1. I don’t really get the whole thing & it doesn’t matter: I threw some change into the hat. That’s the effect you have, Enlightened One. Just don’t start a new religion or I’ll be selling all my shit & joining.

    1. You’re the best. Thank you.

      No weird cult stuff here. I wasted too much of my life on irrelevant things. I want the rest of my life to revolve around things that matter.

      Helping others matters.

      Trying to understand why something that doesn’t necessarily resonate with us but is so deeply meaningful to someone else, feels like a worthwhile exercise.

      I can’t thank you enough for your contribution. And the kind words. I didn’t realize I’d achieved Pseudo Cult Leader status with anyone.

      I’m not even sure what to do with that, except NOT buy bulk amounts of Kool-Aid.

      In all seriousness, thank you so much for contributing.

      1. Hey If you make the Kool-Aid, I’d drink it. I love grape, with crushed ice. Remember snow cones and tons of super sweet syrupy kool-aid? Those were the days!

  2. I’ve been your friend, crippled and unsure myself and my version of living. I know how hard the journey back truly is, and I applaud her efforts. Contributing to something tangible that will entertain and educate is good for me and my ongoing journey forward. Thanks, Matt, for this opportunity.

  3. I gave a little bit. 🙂 I care about environmental stuff, because without it, we’re all screwed.

  4. Matt,

    I donated an average terrible marriage counseling session. Your blog and the many thoughtful commenters have helped my marriage improve more than any of the counselors. So I consider it a bargain.

    So, I donate this in honor of you and your son. A good man who had to learn to accept influence raising a son who will know how.

    How much do I have to donate to name one of the birds Gottman?

    P.S. This money is especially earmarked for non-submissive girl eagles. You go girl!

    1. My gratitude and snorting-laughter combo just now was a bizarrely enjoyable experience.

      Thank you. Very, very much for contributing to a nice effort, and more personally to me, for always trying so hard to walk a higher path during disagreements, and for bring research, well-articulated opinions, and tons of laughs to these conversations.

      We noticed when you were out of commission.

      It’s great to have you back.

    2. “I donated an average terrible marriage counseling session. Your blog and the many thoughtful commenters have helped my marriage improve more than any of the counselors. So I consider it a bargain.”

      Hihihi, this is great Gottmanfan! Although it’s a shame about the crappy marriage counseling.

  5. Matt,

    I would like to contribute, However, I am a dyed-in-the-wool LUDDITE — as such I
    never use the internet ( I both appreciate and despise the thing) to send money for any cause, no matter how worthy.

    If there is a mailing address, please advise and I will send a check.

  6. Matt – usually I give all my charitable contributions to my church or to a charity focused on my son’s disability. But because you asked – and because I believe in the importance of all of the context you gave – people finding meaning and purpose in their life, children, ecology the community you’ve built here – I donated here as well.

    One thought for your friend – many large companies will match their employees donations to charities. If your friends group has any members affiliated with a large company they should investigate that. I checked with my company and no one has applied for this group – I would be willing to help them get signed up if they want.

    1. 1. Thank you so much for your kind contribution.

      2. That’s a really great idea. I’ll pass that through to my friend.

  7. Sorry Matt,

    I found the address on-line — of course. It’s a lovely web site. I’m sorry, you got the brunt of some displaced anger and frustration.

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Matt Fray

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