All around us: hungry mouths, people without affordable housing, victims of physical or sexual abuse, ill people suffering from diseases we could help cure, war casualties, crimes against humanity, child soldiers, gender bias, and the list goes on . . .
In the past, news of events in far-flung lands took days, weeks or months to filter its way around the world. By the time information travelled half a globe, the need for action had passed. And why do something for people so far away anyway?
These days, high-tech global communications systems convey news to us instantly. High-definition videos show us the creases of pain in human faces. Twitter feeds us first-person accounts of injustices. We see things, we know things, and we learn about them in time to do something.
A pointing finger jabs us in the chest. Do something. Do something. Do something. How can YOU live with this injustice?
Why aren’t YOU fixing this RIGHT NOW?
Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Hold on. Back up. Even if we split ourselves into a million pieces we could never fix all the problems. It’s overwhelming. In the face of it, we suffer “problem paralysis.” We think, “I can’t fix it all, so why even bother doing anything?
“Bloom where you are planted,” the floral metaphor suggests. I would add: “Bloom how you are planted.”
Grow fully where you are, and don’t try to be a lily if you’re really chicory.
Sometimes, lilies think everyone should bloom with the same regal beauty they do; they expect all “flowers” to share their same passions. What a boring and out-of-balance field of wildflowers that would be, without the nodding blue heads of chicory, the innocent white daisies, or the blushing pink wild roses.
One of the gifts of age is the gift of self-knowledge. I have come to accept my strengths and weakness. I have learned about my own passions, and I have learned what work I need to leave to others because their passion serves those purposes better.
I’m not here to do it all. I’m not supposed to do it all; I only have to do my part of it. I might not grow with the height or the potent fragrance of a Tiger Lily, but maybe I add something like the healing blue presence of nodding chicory.
The cure for problem paralysis is clear discernment of passions. Figure out what fires you up, and do that. Figure out which things make you say, “Meh” and leave that work to others. Don’t feel guilty about not sharing someone else’s passion and don’t pressure anyone to share yours.
Act on your own passions and support others in theirs and between us all, what a beautiful field of wildflowers we will be.