November 17
I arise in the morning torn
between a desire to improve
the world and a desire to
enjoy the world. This makes
it hard to plan the day.

Elwyn Brooks White


Today's Meditation:

What a lovely way to look at the world!  If I had only this dilemma before me when I awoke each day, then I think that life would be a very fascinating experience.  But when I think about it, isn't it my choice as to what lies before me?  Isn't it my choice to focus on what's most important to me?  And if it is my choice, perhaps it makes sense to make these two desires my primary focal points each morning.  After all, I do have it within my power to accomplish both of these goals, don't I?

There are many, many ways in which I could actually improve the world.  I have within my power the ability to improve, encourage, create, clean, recycle, teach, rejuvenate, restore, and care for, among many other possible actions.  Any positive contribution that I make to the world, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, works to improve the world.

But there's so much here to enjoy!  Parks and lawns and beaches and people and kids and ice cream and chocolate and movies and music and clouds and breezes. . . this list could be almost never-ending.  And if I decide each morning to enjoy whatever comes my way, then I'm setting myself up for a very pleasant day, aren't I?  Yes, there will be illnesses and unpleasant things that aren't very enjoyable, but most of us have it within our power to decide to enjoy our circumstances and surroundings, yet we don't always take advantage of the possibilities.

Planning my day needn't be difficult.  I like the fact that Elwyn is speaking with his tongue in his cheek here, for he knows that there's no need to choose between the two approaches--they're complementary, and we can always choose to pursue both aims each day that we're alive.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things can you do to improve the world today?

What kinds of things can you enjoy today?

How might you find ways to contribute more and to enjoy doing so?

For further thought:

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture,
or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful;
but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere
and medium through which we look.
To affect the quality of the day--that is the highest of arts.

Henry David Thoreau

More on today.


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