Side effects

The other day I was talking to a friend who has devoted a good deal of her life to the ideals of the civil rights movement. She spent most of her teaching career working with inner city kids, leading classrooms of students who didn’t look a thing like her when others were too scared or too comfortable to step in. She has always acted with kindness and empathy toward everyone, regardless of race or creed. Imagine my surprise when she didn’t engage in a conversation about the current climate of racial tension exactly the way I thought she would.

When I questioned her about it, she seemed tired, defeated. All those things we fought for seem to just be coming full circle again, she said. My sense was that she felt that it ultimately hadn’t made much difference. Here we are again, fifty years later, fighting the same battles.

She kept talking about unintended consequences, and I wish I had spent more time probing what she meant. I sensed a bit of regret, not for the cause, but for the place we have landed.

But I keep going back to those unintended consequences.

What did she mean? What are/were they? Do they matter? The truth is, I don’t know any of these answers. I hope to find out someday soon.

What I do know is this.

We can’t let fear of the unknown hold us back from taking action to move toward something that’s right. We make choices based on the information we have at the time and do the best we can. We learn to mitigate the side effects when they come, but we keep marching toward the goal–however imperfectly.

I respect her fatigue. If she’s tired, that’s okay; it’s my turn to step up.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Dancing in the dark

I wish whoever saved all the daylight would give it back.

For some reason, I’m having a tough time this year adjusting to the fall time change. Maybe it’s because my Indiana body is still resisting the adoption of this silly custom (we’ve only done this since 2006) or maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m really struggling. My circadian rhythm just won’t dance.

I drive to work in the dark. I drive home in the dark. Try as I might, I can’t convince my body that it really is only 6pm and that I’ve got no less time to accomplish the sameĀ things I easily master on bright summer evenings. I want to eat more and exercise less. I want to cook heavy, comforting meals instead of healthy, refreshing alternatives. I long to curl up under a blanket and read until I fall asleep.

But I’ve got stuff to do.

I have kids to shuttle, articles to write, miles to grind. It may be dark, but I’ve got places to go and people to see. Somehow, I’ve got to light my own way.

Life doesn’t stop when the sun goes down.