Right and Wrong

There is nothing quite so exhausting as telling yourself that what someone else is doing is wrong. Most people who aren’t, say, the Dalai Lama, probably do it at least once-a-day. What President Obama is doing is wrong; what the Republicans are doing is wrong; what your husband, your daughter, your mother, your neighbor, your boss, or your agent, is doing is wrong. These people are too loud or too quiet; too forceful or too timid; too gaudy or too plain. All you want is for these people to stop doing what they are doing – which, again, is wrong – and start doing what is right. What is so bad about that? Why is it that merely thinking this for longer than thirty seconds is so fatiguing?

The simplicity of the answer is deceiving: Those other people aren’t you. As soon as we think, “He must stop doing that or I cannot be happy,” all our lovely, pure, creative energy is poured down the sinkhole that is trying to change someone else. No matter how right we are, no matter detailed our argument, no matter how invective-filled our pleas, these other people remain infuriatingly, resiliently, unalterably free to do whatever they want to do.

And so we are left with ourselves once again. Because nothing feels so good as taking that energy wasted trying to change someone else and directing it where it wants to go. Nothing feels so good as stepping away from the desk after a long session of asking again and again, “What do I most want say?” of feeling all the energy summoned to grow and grow that answer, stepping away from the desk both physically tired and filled with what you have planted and asking, “What shall I do now?”

Now you remember what it feels like to be alive. Now you don’t care about all those other people and all the wrong things they’re doing or not doing because none of them are you and none of them can answer the only question you have ever wanted to ask.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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