“Telling The Difference”

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When I try to find “the wisdom to know the difference,” as is written in the contemplative piece from two days ago, I struggle. I tend to lean towards action, assuming that I can change many more things than I can. I resist discovering the things that I cannot change. Especially now, when so many people around the world are truly struggling, I feel especially helpless. Helpless and I are not agreeable companions!

On the other hand, in addition to changes I can make by myself, for myself, as I described yesterday, there are things I can do. No, I can’t change the leaders of this nation. But I can contribute money to a campaign to unseat him in November. No, I can’t stop the pandemic, but I can follow the request of our governor to “stay home, stay safe.” If someone is approaching me on the sidewalk, I can cross the street to ensure a safe distance between us instead of playing “sidewalk chicken” with the other pedestrian.

I also can thoughtfully consider other opportunities that come my way to help others. Our U.S. Senator Murphy recently woke in the middle of the night with an idea to supply books to children out of school who have no books at home because of poverty. These kids traditionally rely on the now closed public libraries or books from their now closed schools. He coordinated with a local bookstore and asked for contributions to hand books to children when they came to their school playground to pick up their free meals. He raised $120,000 from 3000 constituents in a few days and was able to supply 4000 books to kids. Since I love books, libraries and kids, I sent him some money.

I really do need wisdom right now. Daily I struggle to know what I need to accept and what I can change. My superwoman complex takes a  hit and I see myself as one human among many trying her best to live in these times.

29 thoughts on ““Telling The Difference”

  1. I keep an eye on an 84 year-old lady across the road. She is still active and independent, but has no family. She waits in her doorway when I take Ollie out, and I chat to her from ten feet away. My wife collects prescription drugs from where she works at the Doctor’s, and e deliver them to friends and neighbours who can’t get out. If we each do something, however small, the cumulative affect can be huge.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. There are some wise quotes about wisdom in a book I own. Allow me to pass on a few of them for what they may be worth to you:

    “A wise man who stands firm is a statesman; a foolish man who stands firm is a catastrophe.” –Adlai Stevenson

    “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but not wise with other men’s wisdom.” –Michel de Montaigne

    “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” –William James

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      1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Saturday I delivered packages to children from a school fundraiser. Most families wanted to tell me that their children love the story telling.

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  3. I love how how your brain works. It resonates with me. Days ago someone in my city posted an urgent need for a cane for her spouse. He had tweaked his back and had little mobility. I PMd her and told her I would put the cane on my front porch and I wiped it down with clorox wipes. Others offered crutches and a walker. It was days before her husband could even get a virtual appt with a doc.
    She messaged today that he was doing better and thanked me for the use of the cane. I was thankful that I am not in need right now. I was thankful I could help. I am thankful that she will return the cane when she is done. I have a couple, but the one I lent her was my moms.
    When everyone finds a small way to help we are all better off.

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  4. I emphathise! I too am a ‘do-er’ and find it really hard when I can’t do something to change or control a situation. I’m thinking of volunteering as I do feel we have to do something to help. I think what your post particularly says to me is that even what seems like a little can bring benefits, and is Doing Something. I love the book collection idea. Keep going!

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  5. For me there are a few things that help in this respect – and it seems you are already doing them.

    The first is to be a bit of a stoic. Only worry about those things you can have some hand in changing/fixing. Maybe an asteroid is headed for us right now, but worrying about that possibility is pointless. You can’t move it. Instead you can focus on the other things you can do right now.

    Second: Don’t plan too far in advance and don’t write the whole story. Just look at the next action you can take. You could have easily talked yourself out of making any donations because “they probably won’t do anything anyway.” Find the next action do the next action. When the action is done, take another action. Easy.

    Finally I try not to overthink and worry whether an action will be successful. If there’s an action that is possible for me to take and has any chance of working, I try it. My life is not yet so busy with helping that I have to do triage. When it gets there I’ll think about what to do.

    I’m glad you’re a do-er in the world. We need as many of them as we can get. Thank you for doing what you do.

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  6. Thank you! I can relate to your feelings of helplessness; and, like you, I care about “doing something” that is within my reach. Yesterday I was fortunate to find a new walking route, away from lots of foot and automobile traffic, where I could zero in on the sights and sounds of emergent spring. I walked for as long as I did when I was able to walk along Lake Michigan and the brisk, fresh air and rhythm of walking brought me peace. In my thoughts was “everyone has a little corner of the world that they can take care of.” And to me this also means that if you don’t have the resources to make material and financial gifts, there are gifts of kindness, care, compassion, safety, and that we can extend in our households, families, communities.

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