Friday, January 30, 2009

The Importance of Sweating the Small Stuff

Response to my Wednesday's post about dealing with a Blue Cross coverage malfunction leads me to impassionedly say more.

The ideas a couple of people expressed -- which I welcome! -- include the view that others are worse off, I shouldn't sweat the small stuff, and that I think about what Gandhi would do .

Yes, there are people horrifically worse off. My difficulty is minor. I agree.

And that is why it's important for me to speak and act. I do a disservice to many if I take the easier route and become one more person who doesn't go to the trouble of protesting when a big company doesn't do right by an individual.

It's only the well-off who can afford to blow off the loss of $200. And only the well-off can afford to say, "This won't do. It has to stop." If I, with my advantages, look the other way (which is so tempting) I will have failed myself. And failed anyone else whom my taking action might have helped.

About Gandhi. I think of him often. He's the guy who said it's each person's responsibility to refuse to cooperate in his own oppression. Noncooperation was his chief alternative to violence. And he dealt with the little injustices (problems with salt) as well as the large. Little things ignored grow large, particularly as they multiply across a population.

My philosophy for myself is: sweat and don't fret. I write instead of fretting. Gandhi's version of that is to do the work full tilt and don't hang your peace of mind on the results. (And of course: breathe!)

I welcome and encourage your further thoughts here on this.

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Greta said...

Peggy, I'm going to borrow your "sweat and don't fret" to contrive a transition to what I'm needing to write.

You were around me long enough to know that I am bold. Well, so I thought until today when I mailed an application for a week-long workshop for writers this summer plus an application for a scholarship.

I struggled with (1) describing myself, (2) proving I'm a serious writer, (3) telling why I deserved the scholarship, and (4) the most difficult part of all, sending a sample page of my writing.

I used my husband as a sounding board, not confident enough to trust that what I was writing was "good enough." Borrowing again, I am forcing myself to keep going full tilt and not stopping just because I might not be accepted.

Is that crazy or what? I'm self-confident about almost everything else in my life.

Share some soothing thoughts, would you?

Debra W said...

Peggy, I must share with you that I do not like to be reminded that there are "others who are much worse off" than myself. We are all individuals going through our own experiences, and therefore whatever hardships we must face are important to our OWN story. When we encounter a difficulty, it is up to us to respond in a proactive and thoughtful manner. If we just sit back and think about all of the people who are less fortunate, than we begin to feel as if our own problems are not worthy. The only thing that this will lead to is INACTION. There is absolutely nothing bold or courageous about that. Changes are never made by doing nothing because we have more than someone else.

Good for you for doing what you must to solve this issue. A little anger is good for the soul. It causes us to DO SOMETHING, rather than just sit back and think about how we don't deserve to do something because we have more than someone else. Keep sweating and not fretting! That is how things get done!

Happy Saturday!

Anonymous said...

Peggy, I admire your sense of justice and willingness to fight for what is right. You may catalyze a different way that BC BS does business. As custodians of our anger we choose the venue
for our action or inaction and your action is positive. Have you seen the movie Rainmaker?

There are many that are worse off then us. For me, this does not confer insignificance on my own problems. It is usually when I am feeling low that I am confronted of that visually with the homeless or poverty or intimately with a friend who has stage 4 cancer.
It is my alarm to move forward on what Mary Chapin Carpenter so aptly titled "The Learning Curve of Gratitude" (NPR, This I Believe).

It is a delicate balance between fret and sweat. I admire your fortitude. Rock on Peggy

Peggy Payne said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Anon and Debbie.

Anon, I imagined you might ask me if I was going to give the $200 to charity if I managed to get it. I ask myself that. Answer:probably not. I appreciate your real encouragement for staying active. You are very generous.

Debbie, I've wrestled with the others-have-it-worse idea for a big chunk of my life. Because I'm very fortunate--and it sometimes feels falsely "right" not to give my own their due.

I've been a bit down this week because our old dog Nikko died Tuesday. My husband's dog really. I've just patted him for these fourteen years. And then John Updike died; not that I know him, but he's been a hero of mine since I was in high school. And these things are also a bit intertwined with the more ominous side of turning sixty this month.

These are, for me, minor compared to what I watch others go through, and require no action, but still important and they need my attention.

And Greta! You are doing so well to be where you are with this. Yes, you're bold-- and you're doing great. You got the application in.

Probably Updike harbored his own such wobbly moments. A woman was in a class of mine once who'd had HAD A BOOK ON OPRAH!! and she asked me: when do you know you're a real writer? Some form of the wrestle seems to continue, no matter the success.

And writing one's own bio or synopsis or any of those things is harder than writing a novel for most of us. Carry on! And congratulations on getting the package into the mail.