Life in Writing
This is a quote that most Lord of the Rings fans are very familiar with. It's spread around a lot because it packs a lot of wisdom. We have one life here on Earth, and in that life we have control of exactly one person. You may wish that you could tell others what to do, or that you had an eternity to deal with the problems of this world, but you don't. Given that we don't have control of others, and that we all have a limited time, why do we waste so much time throwing blame at others and trying to force them to be better? Cut those excuses from your life. Decide what to do with the time that has been given to you, and stop worrying so much about what others do with theirs.
Man has come a long way. We can travel around the world by flying, we can even get to other planets. We can cure diseases, and share knowledge over the internet nearly instantaneously. In the face of all of man's accomplishments it seems like there's nothing we can't do. Yet it's important to remember that for every one thing we can do, there are hundreds that we can't. We can't change the path of a hurricane, create a corruption-free political system, cure depression, or stop Godzilla. Some things just really aren't under our control and it is nothing short of arrogance to think that they are. Just as important as understanding the things that we can do, is having a healthy understanding and respect for the things that we can't.
It's doubtful that anybody reading this blog has ever created a sentient race of robots like the Cylons of Battle Star Galactica, but it's fair to say that we've all made mistakes. We've said things we didn't mean, took something that didn't belong to us, blamed others for our short comings. Maybe we've even benefited from some of the bad things we've done. But the day will come that we will have to answer for the choices we've made. The choices we make shape our life, and if we are continually making bad choices then it will catch up to us, and we will have a bad life.
It's easy for many of us to say that this isn't true. That the rich and the powerful do what they want and have no consequences. It can look this way from the outside, and maybe their consequences are less severe than they are for others, but their bad choices bear negative consequences all the same. They may gain material wealth, but they destroy relationships, they lose respect from others and from themselves, and every single day of their lives they're forced to cope with the guilt from their poor choices. Being rich and powerful isn't a real escape from problems. Everybody, no matter how they try to run, eventually faces the consequences of their choices.
Preferably you can find a way to do something that is both smart, and right, but there's still a lot of wisdom in this statement. Sometimes you just don't know what to do. Which decision is the smartest? Which will benefit you the most. In many cases it's nearly impossible to tell. Here, Jayne gives us a pretty good metric for a default choice when you don't know which decision is smartest. Do what you feel the best about. When you can't see all the outcomes of a choice. Do the one that lines up the best with your morals.
Many of us are quick to judge. We hear about the latest case of some criminal and waste no time in spreading our opinions on what should happen to them. Jail time, death penalty, whatever we happen to think. We're quick to say that they're monsters, and deserve less than human treatment for their crimes because their crimes have made them less than human. When is the last time you saw a political post in your facebook feed and didn't find comments telling people that they should go kill themselves for being so stupid? But how quick do you think anybody would be in passing judgments if they had to carry out the sentences themselves? How fast would we see a change in the behavior of internet trolls if they were forced to carry out all of the threats they leave? There's a real disconnect between what people think should happen when they're sheltered from the reality of carrying such things out, and how they feel when they're faced with that brutal reality. So if you're in the camp of people who think that all of your political opponents should go die, and that all minor criminals should be imprisoned. Think about how you'd feel if you were the one that had to carry out all of those sentences against them. I think you'll find that a lot of times it will change your mind about how you judge what others deserve.
Despite his super powers, Spider Man often finds himself as the underdog in many situations. Be it through youth and inexperience, or just from a really powerful super villain, Spider Man gets overwhelmed all the time. So if a guy with super strength, wall crawling powers, and a tingly spidey sense frequently finds himself in overwhelming situations how much harder can life be for us non-powered folk?
But Spider Man shares with us here the value of putting forth our maximum effort. Sure, everybody fails at some point, but those who won't try fail every time. So learn from Spider Man, and don't let the fear of failure stop you from trying. Never go down without a fight.
Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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