How to Change the World

My son, Jake’s, Very Merry Unbirthday Party. (He’s the Mad Hatter.)


I was at a party, pregnant with my first child, when a drunk man I didn’t even know asked, “Why the hell would you want to bring a child into this horrible world?” I blurted out, “How do you know that my child won’t be the answer to what’s wrong with this world?” Jake was born a few months later. He came into the world with an insatiable hunger. Hunger for food, for attention, but mostly for love.

He was a pretty normal kid and teenager, having his angsty 18 months of hell that I think most people get from their kids at some point. When it came time to go to college, he didn’t do great. He withdrew and went forth and found himself.

Eventually, he became a massage therapist, and that was when he found what he was put on this earth for. To care for others, in any way possible. He was an amazing therapist, not just because he was phenomenal at massage, but because he shared a part of himself with his clients. He was kind, loving, interested, and provided provocative insight. He flourished in the job, but after a couple of years, found that he needed a different career. He sat down and talked to me about it. Should he go back to school and become a doctor? A lawyer? What should he do? He needed to do something important, he told me. “Why?” I asked, “Why do you need to be so important?” “So that I can save the world and make it a better place, like you told that man at that party,” he said in the most heartfelt expression you could ever imagine.

I was terrified that I had unduly burdened my child with an impossible goal before he was even born. Then, I thought about who he was. I told him that he didn’t need to change the entire world at once in some grand and majestic gesture. He changed the world by making people’s lives more bearable every day. Each person to whom he gave a massage was released from pain with the amazing therapy they received. But they also got to witness the great love and care that one person can give to another. That person felt better physically, emotionally and spiritually, because of what Jake shared with them. And that person went forth in the world as a better human, more capable of happiness, love, and kindness, than they were when they walked into his office.

He continues to find ways to make the world a more positive place. He speaks out whenever he sees unjust treatment, be it racism, homophobia, or just someone treading on the rights of someone unable to defend themselves. He creates an example of how to see issues in a kinder, more loving manner. He is a wildly successful real estate broker now, not because he is a great salesman, but because he cares about helping people make their lives better. And he gives back both his time and his money to a cause that is very dear to his heart—helping young people who experience cognitive challenges.

The best advice I can give on how to change the world is Jake’s email signature, which reads:

“My mission is to change the world one relationship at a time.”

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