January 8

  

Today's quotation:

The world is too big for us, too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement.  Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself.  It's a constant strain to keep pace. . . and still, you lose ground.  Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment.  The political world is news seen rapidly, you're out of breath trying to keep pace with who's in and who's out.  Everything is high pressure.  Human nature can't endure much more.

Atlantic Journal

June 16, 1883

Today's Meditation:

I love the passage above.  Rarely have I seen such pessimism, such clearly illogical thinking, such a focus on the negative aspects of everyday elements of life.  If you read the passage closely, you'll see a person who has allowed him or herself to become overwhelmed by everything that's going on, and who then has generalized their own feelings to everyone else.

How often have you seen things in your life or at work or in the family as going very well, only to have a discussion with someone who sees things as going poorly?  We leave these conversations feeling somehow that things are going wrong, no matter what we felt to start with.  And so what if scientists keep announcing their discoveries?  I'm certainly not going to "stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment."  I'd much rather read or hear about them and say, "Wow, that's interesting," and then get back to focusing on my life.

Life always offers us much more to focus on than we need to focus on or than we're able to focus on.  It's important that we choose carefully just what we allow into our minds on a deep level, and what we keep on the periphery.  If we allow our neighbor's family problems to preoccupy us, then we're adding a new set of worries to our lives.  We must let others do what they do and be what they are, and we must be ready to step in and help a situation when necessary, but we also must keep a clear idea of just what belongs in our minds.  Usually, if it's something we can't control or something that's out of our realm of influence, we're much better off not letting it be something that will get us out of breath or that will overwhelm us.

The last 120 years since this article was published have proved not only that human nature can endure more, but also that the world hasn't changed as much as we think it has.  How we live our lives and the way we react to input are up to us , as well as which input we consider important enough to worry about or to focus on strongly.

Questions to consider:

Do you find yourself worrying about things when someone else says that they're worthy of your worrying?

How often do things seem to be so overwhelming that it's impossible to bear them?  If that's the case, then how have so many others been able to bear similar (or worse) situations?

Do you consciously choose the things you focus on, or do you allow things to work their way into your mind on their own, without ever sitting down and deciding whether they're important enough to worry about?
For further thought:

Life only demands from you the strength that you possess.  Only one feat is possible--not to have run away.

Dag Hammarskjold


The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

Okakura Kakuzo

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