The transformative power of love (or how we came to name Max's Ring of Fire)

Some people have asked lately about the origin and/or inspiration for the name of our foundation, Max's Ring of Fire.

I've also been seeing a lot of comments lately about the upcoming fun-run/fun-draiser Max Run that sound like, "hey, sounds like a great idea, great cause, but... I don't run... I don't like to run... blah, blah, blah"

All the excuses start to sound like Jake Elroy (John Belushi) from the Blues Brothers.

I'm not bitter when people decline to participate because they aren't available, can't afford to, or even just don't believe in the cause. Long ago I chose not to take it personally when someone declines to contribute, participate, or otherwise engage with our cause - life's too short to worry about that kind of stuff (and there's so many people who DO want to help if only you ask and show them how, so that's time better spent anyway!).

But what gets me are the excuses. "Oh sure, I care Andy, just make it easy for me to care, and I'll show up."

As Melissa and I have started giving more and more of our time to fighting neuroblastoma and other causes, a constant theme has emerged for me, and that is when giving is easy, you get less out of it. Giving in a manner that challenges the giver, also helps the giver; it helps them appreciate the sacrifice of their giving more. It makes the giving mean more to the giver. Altruism is a funny concept (quick refresher: altruism being an act that benefits someone else other than the actor). Altruism doesn't align well with biology and evolution.And while I know that evolution exists, I also believe in God. Perhaps that's where love enters the equation. Maybe God's love makes it possible to see past our own selfish interests and limits. To extend ourselves past our comfort zone. Take risks on behalf of someone else, but get something unattainable otherwise in return.

And there you have it, the meaning behind the name Max's Ring of Fire.

According to Rosanne Cash, Johnny's daughter, "The song (Ring of Fire) is about the transformative power of love..." The story is that four years after the song was released, Carter and Cash were married which Cash states helped to stop his alcohol and drug addictions.

I like the Rosanne Cash explanation. And I believe the Love Transforms message from the song, has become the durable meaning of the name Max's Ring of Fire. The video below also demonstrates the reason for the name (simply put, Max loved the song, sang it all the time, and aligned well with the skate, hot rod, alt country aesthetic associated with the Social D version).


Anonymous said...

In light of what you're trying to do, excuses sound really lame. Dedication takes a lot of time and effort, and what you said about getting as much out of it as you're putting in has really struck a chord...thank you for this enlightening post.

Unknown said...

Actually it doesn't have to take a lot of time to make a difference. There is a sense of entitlement running rampant across this country that makes me sick to my stomache. I have been unemployed for the last 6 months but my wife works hard and we're not quite destitute so I've spent some time with a group of friends over the last 3 months organizing a fundraiser for Neuroblastoma research in Braintree, MA this Sunday 8/1. A few dozen emails/phone calls later and we have almost everything we need donated to this event before it starts. None of us have ever organized an event like this but we're expecting 300 people to show and we have 50 volunteers lined up to help out. Over 60 local people/companies have generously donated their services, money or time to make this event a success.
We'll be thinking of Max on Sunday

Andy (Dad to Max) said...

Thank you Chris and thank you Anonymous for your comments. I fretted over whether to write this post and I think I got it mostly right. I think it needs a follow-up to fully evolve the concept though.

We too have been so blessed by the many friends, friends of friends, coworkers and colleagues, and strangers, that have stepped up to help make a difference at our Touch A Truck and other fundraising events. Without our volunteers, we would be nothing, just a mom and dad of a boy named Max that died of a disease called neuroblastoma and a burning desire to make a difference in a world that doesn't seem to prioritize kids as much as we think it should.

Good luck on at Will's Sunday Funday, and THANK YOU for jumping in with both feet to help make a big difference for kid's battling cancer.


Donna Ludwinski said...

Amen Andy. You speak the truth my friend. Until we "suffer" at least a little in the offering, we don't begin to understand the rewards in why it "better to give than receive"...

Keep up the good work my dear friend!

So thankful for your sweet, delightful son Max,

Randee said...

I have come to realize that it's through giving we receive. The givers will get this right away. And what's it all for anyway if we can't give it away. Most of us have more "stuff" than we will ever need or use. What are we going to do with it anyway? Take a chance; give a little, give a lot, give some $$$$, give some time--feel your heart swell, feel your smile broaden--feel good!

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