|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
The Life Lifter: Just What We Needed to Hear
When it comes to listening to the issues of the people we care about, we so often try to say the right thing and end up saying the wrong thing. Or we worry that we're going to say the wrong thing, and say nothing (my specialty). But those days are now at an end. I'm just going to slap a magnet on everybody in the world, regardless of whether I know what his or her problems are:
A friend of mine recently handed me one of these. I hugged him so hard his head went wobbly. Then I said, "Can you give me nine more?"
"It's a magnet," he said. "How many refrigerators do you have?"
I said, "I'm at a point where I need to stick these puppies up even places they don't actually stick."
Back at home, with the help of Scotch tape, I posted them in every place in my house where I need the Invisible God of Encouragement to tell me that I wasn't alone and that I could, if I reached deep, keep going. Yes, I could make some kind of gluey pasta dinner (forgot to defrost the chicken) while hard-boiling eggs for tomorrow's lunch (husband ate the lunch meat) while sitting on hold with computer support (screen went black) while watching my 5-year-old try to dry his sopping wet sneakers (failed to buy a backup pair even though his school has a tennis-shoes-only policy) with a tiny plastic fan that is supposed to blow bubbles out of his bubble-making water gun.
Cynthia Gray, the artist that creates these magnets, has given out over 9,000 of them. "Each time," she says, "the response from everybody is pretty much the same—a gasp, and then 'Hey, I really, really needed that.'"
Gray distributes the magnets in person or via various fans around the country who sign up on her website to be "distributors" and who live everywhere from Tokyo to Calgary to Pittsburgh. The magnets are sold to distributors at cost (25 for $30 or 100 for $95) who hand them out to whomever they feel needs one.
"The project has been going for 10 years," says Gray. Originally, it was developed as a response both to her daily struggle to keep creating art and her brother's unexpected suicide. "I wanted people to remember what makes life worthwhile. Not in cheesy way. But just that we all have to continually address the goal, How can I make meaning for myself?"
If we forget to do this, she adds, the result is often despair—in little and big ways. "Don't Give Up is just a wake-up call for us to keep on making that meaning."
Her favorite place to have seen a magnet was at the baby shower of a stranger, who had no idea that she was the artist behind the project. My favorite place is my stove.
My "Don't Give Up" there isn't a reminder not to get defeated while cleaning my crusty, disgusting burners. It's a reminder to not give up at leaving them dirty. Because I am one of those people who will sponge and scrub and sort blocks and fold laundry—when I need to stop, sit down with my son, ask him to put down his sneaker and spend a few needed minutes with me blowing actual bubbles from his bubble-making water gun.
Please note that Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities have no affiliation with and do not endorse those entities, projects, or websites referenced above, which are provided solely as a courtesy. You should conduct your own independent investigation before using the services of any such entities, projects, or websites. Information is provided for your reference only.