Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Helplessness falls between two extremes--infuriation and resignation! In the first category are things that are frustrating, like computers doing like fricking nothing that you want them to do! Also in this category is fixing anything that is beyond your skill to fix; watching events unfold that you can't do anything to stop--like towers falling on 911; and not knowing what to do in any given stressful situation. This extreme always requires some degree of anguish.

The other extreme includes things that are inevitable and unavoidable. Physical limitations that you can do little about, for instance. Sickness, body size and appearance, and raw talent that you haven't got are all a part of this. I can't stop my hearing loss. I can't hear people on cell phones. I can't hear my tea kettle whistle. I can't hear alarm clocks. I used to find all this infuriating and frustrating, but I've learned to relax about this smaller stuff. I've moved it from the first extreme to the second.

Getting older also involves helplessness. There is nothing you can do to stop the years ticking by--but you can take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, so that the helplessness does not include panic. In fact, if faith is put in the formula, the fatality of getting older can be a comfort and release. There is a docility that can be nurtured that inspires fearlessness in the face of helplessness. Instead of being pushed off that high dive, called death, into space with no seeable bottom, we can leap and enjoy the rush of falling, trusting that whoever controls the chute will pull the ripcord in time.

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