I love reading. My pile of reading climbs up and up, not so as to overwhelm me with doubt and despair about my inaction, but to remind me that there is so much to read and I must act whenever and wherever possible.
So one of the places I was reading this week was on a plane. Cramped between my bags and their bags, the tray table and the arm rest and the tea, I opened something from my pile, eagerly.
One of the things I love about reading is that there is always, if I am open to it, a phrase or line of dialogue or example that jumps off the page and into my consciousness and desire to think and do.
This is what I found on the flight – it’s from ‘The Active Life’ by Parker J. Palmer:
It made me think a lot about the courage, the inner honesty and the kind chutzpah and care needed to identify one’s own ability to take action – a potency and agency to act in a way that values others, honours complexity, celebrates, and is gentle – but does not lay down in despair.
‘When we fail to act because of the complexities… the “politics of the situation” does become a mysterious force outside us, in which we have no voice and the problem that bothers us is likely to get worse.’
We each feel some desire to take action on many things, from tackling a growing pile of books, to activism in its truly political sense. If we think about this phrase from Parker J Palmer, and take courage – and I would say kindness – in our actions, we will see there is always something we can do.
And should that ability to act find itself drawing up the thin covers of despair, let it seek instead the warmth of community and love, which have power to warm and to massage – and make the stiff, supple once more.
There is something, always, we can do.