Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live—that is to have succeeded.”
That is my hope. I would like to think that somehow I have left the world better. That would bring meaning to my life.
Have I done something to help someone?
Have I done something to make the earth cleaner?
Have I stood up or spoken out about abuse and injustice?
Have I showed kindness in the face of anger or hurt?
Have I helped the cause of injured or abused animals?
Have I listened when I should?
Have I followed my beliefs?
Have I showed love?
And most important of all Have I done any of the above?
Today is Good Friday. A day to ponder about what it means to sacrifice.
Today, for some reason, my eyes hurt. I don’t know if it because of too much straining to read things but I’m not going to write much. I am putting drops in my eyes and resting them for the night. I’m a human with sore eyes but I did see this quote and it cheered me.
In today’s world people like to play “the shame game.” We have no problem shaming someone who is not “like us.” This is rampant among teens but any of us are capable of joining in.
It is so easy to put down those who are different. Maybe they are fat, or too thin, or too black, or too white, or Muslim, or Christian, or Hindu….I could go on and on. Maybe they just don’t agree with us. We are becoming so polarized. Left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.
One of the things I have encountered recently is intolerance about my moderate position. Somewhere between the black and white there is a whole spectrum of gray. Few things in this world are a simple as black and white. Most things have layer upon layer of opinion. Each of us has to make decisions based on our upbringing, our core values and our ethical stance. A choice that may be right for me may be terribly wrong for someone else.
We are losing all respect for opinions differing from our own. It is considered fine to metaphorically hang, draw and quarter those who are different. Love, tolerance and respect have given way to hatred and abuse.
Somehow I hope the pendulum begins to swing the other way. As the population of the earth continues to grow our exposure to others will grow also. We will have to learn to respect the personal space and ability to see things differently of those around us.
I hope we can.
When my mother died and then my aunt a year later I was tasked with cleaning out their homes. This was not an easy task. Not only were there things that hadn’t been seen in many years but also things that brought back memories and tears. This was back around 2003-2004. I still remember the agony of that job.
For this reason I am trying, little by little, to make cleaning out my things easier on my family. I have written about getting rid of things but this is the underlying reason. I am moving slowly but making progress. This is another thing that strangely enough is on my bucket list. I know, this is not a fun thing but it matters to me.
Little by little, bit by bit I am going through papers and personal items. Many things can be discarded but others need to have a place, with explanations, where they are kept. I hope I don’t die soon as this may take me until my death to do. For my children’s sake I hope not. For me this is not a macabre task but a loving one.
It seems that we spend the first half of live accumulating things, the next quarter enjoying them and the last quarter letting them go.
Each part of life has its demands. Too many people leave a huge disaster for others to clean up. I hope I can do better than that.
It is so easy to fall into thinking that we can control outcomes in life. When things don’t work the way we want we start with the “What ifs.” If I had only finished something at work faster, if I had only been nicer, if I had turned left instead of right. Depending on the situation we can blame ourselves for what happened. We can also blame someone or something else. One way leaves us feeling guilty and the other way exonerates us but leaves us angry and wanting to lay blame on someone.
There is also the problem of responsibility. Some families have solved their children’s mistakes so many times that the child has no sense of responsibility for their actions. They have not suffered any consequences. Unfortunately, we need to be held accountable early on in life or when something happens that can’t be fixed then the result can be devastating.
Life is unpredictable. When we are truly at fault we need to take responsibility but we can’t take on guilt for the vagaries of the world. Knowing the difference between these two is a critical life skill.
When situations arise take a hard look and sift through what happened. Learn to use some perspective and don’t take on things that are uncontrollable. Don’t lose yourself in the “what ifs.”