Monthly Archives: November 2013

No, you can’t do anything you set out to do, but…

One of the lies that people like to tell kids is “you can do anything you want to, if you really set your mind to it.” This is patently absurd. You can’t flap your arms and fly like a bird – believe me, I really wanted to do that. You can’t look at someone you don’t like and make them catch fire. You can’t make the Earth spin backwards and reverse time. (That’s a good thing, in my book.) This knowledge of your own limits may be depressing, to be sure. But think about it — the set of all possible actions is so incredibly large and dazzling that you should thank the Lord for keeping it from becoming infinite.

Here is the thing that kids should be told, over and over — you can do far more than you think you can. If you do find something you really want to do and that looks like it might be possible, understand that it probably won’t be easy. I am ashamed at the occasions when I have declined to attempt something difficult out of simple fear or discouragement, and yet I have managed to amaze myself time and time again by the things that I did accomplish. Give it a shot and don’t be discouraged by initial failure – that’s the real secret. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

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A prayer for the mass-transit rider

Lord, protect us from those of brass voice and feather brain. Please keep those who chatter and bray from becoming our seatmate. If worse comes to worse and we are forced into proximity, let us have patience enough not to succumb to the temptation to deal out physical violence or even snappy remarks, however much the fool may deserve to be corrected. Though we are tempted also to pray for these people to be struck with laryngitis, let us understand that karma decrees that we shall also be sickened after they breathe on us.

Lord, help us to accept that the best we can do is to ask for swift, safe travel to our destination, and to appreciate how blessed we are that we don’t have to live or work with these people. All this we pray in the mighty name of your son, Jesus Christ.