Every motivational saying that springs to mind today seems to not actually have been said by the person I think said it. (Two examples — “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Do some quick research, and you’ll see what I mean.) Oh well. It’s not really about the inspirational quote anyway, is it?
The motivation is to find a way to create good in a world that just seems to be really NOT WHAT I WANT IT TO BE.
For those of you who know me or have read carefully, it will come as no surprise that in addition to being a pretty nerdy library worker who volunteers at an elementary school and likes to garden, I’m kind of a radical. It might have been the time I spent living and working with nuns and other social justice activists that launched me in that direction, but later jobs in social services and volunteering gigs cemented those tendencies. Sure, I’ve got degrees in economics and public administration, but a few of my more memorable moments in those studies came while listening to a Marxist talk about public policy and hearing a classmate drone on about how the marketplace would revolutionize education. Did I agree with them? No, but they made me think. Which made me think more.
So what do I do now? Many people will protest. I’ve done that. (1990 – I tagged along with Sister Theresa to a protest against the first Gulf War. And yes, we did sing “If I had a hammer”.) Others will write letters or make phone calls to their representatives or donate to causes they care about. I’ve done that, most recently last week. More might get involved in something positive in their communities. Done that, too. Mentoring, working with kids, making copies, sewing things, planting flowers.
It doesn’t seem like enough this time.
When I was in college, one of my favorite professors told us that when we got older, we would feel less, that the emotions that seem so overwhelming and exhausting when you are young begin to fade. I remember thinking that would never happen to me, because I didn’t want to lose that intensity. And then I got older. Not being so crushed by every single thing really did make life easier and more pleasant in some ways. Do I miss the high drama of my college boyfriends or the slights of mean girls? No way.
But I wonder if now is one of those times when more intensity might actually be a good thing.
Last year, my son had to come up with a six word phrase to describe his life. (Ah, the fun that school counselors have! Was that one really for the kids? If I were a school counselor, I’d be doing that exercise to amuse me. School counselors are probably better people than I am, though.) And what he came up with fits me perfectly, now and pretty much always:
Work in progress; results may vary.
At least I know for sure where this quote came from.