I read an article this morning that really resonated with me. The article is from The Elephant Journal (kind of funny because my blog is The Faithful Elephant). At the start of the article, there is a quote from one of my favorite authors, E.B. White. A funny side note: I took a quiz today that determined which classic novel was most fitting for your life based on a set of questions you answer. Normally I think these BuzzFeed quizzes are trivial, but when I took this quiz and read my results, I couldn’t agree more. The novel that fit best with my life was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I’ll spare you the details and say that I think that novel is perfect.
I was exposed to E.B. White a lot today, so I knew that the blog post would focus around this topic. The quote by E.B. White that is at the start of the article on Elephant Journal is, “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But 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.” I have found myself waking up each day thinking this exact same thing.
If you read my blog from last week, you noticed that I am fed up with the negativity that has consumed my life this summer. Between friends who aren’t happy right now, the media giving me anxiety by convincing me the world is going to end, or silly social media posts, I have felt overwhelmed. I so badly want to help others and make things better in their lives, but is that something I should make a priority? What about my desire to enjoy the world? Just like E.B. White, I am torn each day.
Let’s go back to his quote. “…But 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.” When I read this, my mind floods with questions. What if the one day I choose to enjoy the world, a person needs me? What if I spend the day helping someone who can never really be helped (I know a lot of these people, unfortunately), and I miss something amazing that could have happened in my own life? I think the questions that flood my brain are similar to the ones that White experienced.
Did E.B. White ever wonder if he just stopped caring for others (not entirely), how would his life be different? I do not mean to sound selfish, although I feel that I am coming off that way. Should I spend each day working to better the lives of others? Does each day need to be a question of should I help myself or others? If only he were here today… I’d love to pick his brain.
In the Elephant Journal article, the author wrote, “If I look at you and see your sadness, I can’t cover it or make it go away. I cannot fix you.” Reading this helped me. It helped me to understand that I can only do so much for a person. After a while, that person needs to change themselves. If we are less specific and say the world rather people. I can’t improve the world on my own. I need others to be on board. In the meantime, I can choose to love the world (and the people in it). As the author of the article states, she may not be able to fix people, but she can certainly love them. I completely agree with this. I love my friends. I love my family. I love the world in which I live. If only love was the end all, cure all for problems. I hate that love is all I can give.
I am slowly beginning to understand that no matter what plans you make, something unexpected is bound to happen. E.B. White had trouble planning his day because he never knew what his day would bring. It is tough to know if you will enjoy the world, or you won’t because you are too busy trying to improve the it. You may choose to improve the world and enjoy it by doing so. You may even enjoy the world after improving it. I could go all day here with different outcomes. In the end, I agree that deciding what is more important can be tough. I mean, who knows what can happen?