Friday, February 21, 2014


“I should”, one of the deadliest word combinations in the English language.  After 74 years they still get their hook in me, but I am beginning to figure things out.

I should go to this meeting tonight because it’s important, I should give to this cause because it is so worthy, I should…I should…I should.  (“Ought” may be freely substituted for “should”)  How many times have those two words driven us to action, even when it was against our own self-interest.

We must be careful when we allow these two words to enter into conversations with ourselves.   There are times when it is entirely appropriate, and perhaps very advisable, for us to act because we “should”: calling the dentist when a tooth hurts, taking the car in for service because of a strange noise,  or supporting a cause that we encouraged. 

Likewise there are times when we have to draw the line and say “no, I can’t be there”, or “I like what you are doing but it is not possible for me to be involved now”.  We cannot be everything to every one.  We have to find the balance between responsibilities to our community, our family and friends, and ourselves., realizing that over time this balance, how we distribute ourselves, will be constantly changing..  The challenge is to know where to place the fulcrum,; when to put our concern for others before our own.  Elizabeth O”Connor in her wonderful book, Journey Inward, journey Outward, reminds us that caring for ourselves enhances our capacity to care for others.

So what have I figured out after 74 years…I should be mindful of my own needs as well as those of others.

No comments: