Cary was eating breakfast and thinking about what he should do today. He pushed his eggs around the plate between each bite.
This morning, he didn’t want to think about joining hands to save the world. He had watched “We Are The World” just last week. While watching the old song, a giant hologram of a person holding hands with another appeared in the room.
“Join hands,” the hologram said, “and save the world.”
Cary took another bite of bacon and washed it down with chocolate milk. He didn’t hate bacon. But he still preferred it with a chocolate-milk chaser.
He wondered, “What if I had to save the world?”
“Imagine saving the world.” said the hologram that just reappeared.
Were these holograms real? Cary didn’t know.
“I’m not sure if I can save the world,” Cary said, more to himself than to the hologram. “The world is more complex than that. Many people are always trying to save the world. It’s like a rat race. Anyone who looks too closely at the world seems to end up wanting to change it.”
Cary wiped his mouth with a napkin. His fingers twisted the paper into a knot.
“Stop and stare at the world,” commanded the hologram.
“You cannot stare at the world. That’s how you end up in one of those camps.”
Cary threw the paper ball at the kitchen trash can. It bounced off the side and into the sink. The paper soaked up the water and melted against the stainless steel vessel.
“Save the world from yourself.” said the hologram as the room started to fade.
The room faded to black. When Cary’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, he was standing on a sidewalk with his hands in fists at his sides. He shook his head and looked around. People were standing on the sidewalk in every direction. They looked at Cary and began to move in his direction.
Cary turned and began to run. The people followed him.
“Run,” he told himself, “don’t stare at the world.”
Messages appeared from above as Cary ran, “You have a choice. Join or Leave. You have a choice.”
Cary was running faster and faster, trying to escape. He whipped his head back. The message had appeared next to the heads of his pursuers. The words flared red, and lightning flashed behind them. They blinked out.
With a gasp, Cary darted into a door and slumped against it.
“What?” Cary asked, “What just happened?”
The room was a bedroom. It had white painted walls and a wood floor. A window looked out over the city. It was bright. Cary stood. Looking out his window, he viewed the world perfectly. No clouds moved in the sky.
“I can save the world,” Cary told himself. Cary felt excited. He had never fulfilled the purpose of his creator. But now, he could make a real difference in the world. He would not have to help in a toy store or a classroom. Cary could help in the most crucial way: saving the world.
Cary looked around his room. He tried to understand the idea of saving the world.
Cary was still trying to figure out what to do.
The voice continued, “Join hands to save the world.”
It sounded silly, except for the part about saving the world. Maybe there was something to this “Join Hands Day” thing.
Cary began to go to the living room.
“Cary?” his mom said. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. I feel…out-of-it.”
The year was 2021, and the date was Join Hands Day–May 3rd. Cary didn’t know much about the stories of his parents, but he knew that they had joined hands with people in the past. He could have asked them more about it. But he didn’t.
He wanted to ask his mom if holograms had ever appeared to her. However, that seemed like a rude thing to do. Cary just couldn’t figure out the right way to ask someone if they were real.
“Are you ill?” his mom asked.
“No,” Cary replied, “I just don’t feel right.”
His dad looked up from his book. “What are you still doing here, Cary?”
“I just don’t feel like going anywhere.”
Cary’s mom looked at her computer screen.
He couldn’t figure out how to connect to his parents. He just felt so alone. And confused.
He decided to call his best friend, Robert.
“Hey, Cary,” Robert said. “What’s going on?”
Cary thought for a second. He remembered what his dad had said. “There will be no fun today. We must be very helpful and kind today.”
Cary would always remember that.
“Well,” Cary started, “it’s Join Hands Day.”
“Join Hands Day? What’s that?”
“America’s Fraternal Benefit Societies created National Join Hands Day in 2000 to bring adults and kids together for the sake of their communities. So, Robert, what should we do today?”
“Umm. I don’t know. I’ll come over. We’ll figure it out.” said Robert.
Cary and Robert decided to build a birdhouse for the neighbor lady, Mrs. Lo. They collected all the stuff for it. They invited her to make one with them.
“But I don’t have any building stuff,” Mrs. Lo said.
“I have some extra wood,” Robert said.
Cary had some extra paint and some extra crayons.
“We can all join hands and help each other with the building!” he said. “We’ll make a really nice birdhouse. Mrs. Lo.”
“But if we join hands, how will we be able to build the birdhouse?” Mrs. Lo asked.
Just then, Cary saw a giant hologram coming towards them.
“It’s Join Hands Day,” Cary said.
“You don’t have to worry about Join Hands Day. Start building the birdhouse right now.”
Working together was fun.
No one wanted to leave the neighbor’s until the birdhouse was done.
Cary and Robert joined efforts to make a really beautiful birdhouse.
Finally, Cary asked his parents about joining hands.
“You should join hands with one or two friends every day,” his dad had said.
“But remember joining hands doesn’t have to be taken literally. It just means doing things together. It’s about having good company or having a good time with one or more people. It’s about connecting with others.”
“Oh, that’s how you can join hands but still get things done,” said Cary.
“Exactly. You’re symbolically joining hands by working together for a common goal.”
Cary didn’t have to worry about saving the world anymore.