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@vivianlee Oh, you’re welcome. I definitely hear the survivor guilt. It’s a real thing: once you’ve escaped, you want to go back and unlock all the other cages. Of course! But my wife, who’s a survivor of another sort, likes to quote, “You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” And, she would add, beware of anyone who thinks that’s a reasonable suggestion: chances are, they have a box of matches in their hand.

Also, I really like what @Miraz said, that there are lots of ways to give back and also that maybe it’s better to think of ways to “pay it forward” than to “give back.”

Something teachers and artists have in common is that they can never be sure that anything they’ve done will bear any fruit. You say something to an eighth grader, or publish a poem in some obscure magazine, or release a single that sinks without a trace. But who knows what lives are changed by it — two, five, twenty years later? All you can do is do your good work in the best way you can (and get paid for it, if at all possible!), and hope it doesn’t fall on stony ground.

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