There are some of us that have thoughts and ideas of how the world should be – trying to make something that speaks to our internal canvas, sometimes daring to expand that canvas.
Sometimes the world betrays us – we betray ourselves – by expecting things to work in certain ways when they do not. We might expect that people in authority actually care about what they are responsible for and find that they don’t care about our particular dumpster-fires or don’t see them as important. Maybe they aren’t important in the grand scheme of things, maybe they are.
He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.
– P.G. Wodehouse. Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940)
Sometimes the things we invest ourselves in do not come to fruition in the way we like – maybe it’s a person we tried to help who keeps finding ways to destroy themselves, maybe it’s rescued animals having a less than pleasant ending, maybe it’s someone simply ignoring us when we try to help them avoid future problems.
The world, despite the stories we’ve been told and the way that we are told society should work, does not work the way we believe. Society is an agreed upon illusion that, when stripped bare of the ideals we superimpose on it, can be uglier than we are taught in schools and by those that love us.
We live in a world where everyone is on a quest to ‘do good’, but ‘good’ is a relative thing. ‘Good’ for someone in poverty might mean being able to eat, ‘good’ for someone who does not have to worry about that food might mean seeing their children go to school and do well. ‘Good’ is a problem because we all don’t agree on what is good. What is fair. What is right. What should be done.
And so we expand our canvases, not shrink them. We find out why the world is not as we think it should be and we try to address that. In the blink of a decade, you can find your canvas has expanded you; you may find yourself doing things that you never planned to and may have made absolutely no progress in making the world a better place.
But you might have accidentally made yourself a better person. You might have made yourself worse. That’s the real journey. That’s the true measure of the world we live in.
The Quest to expand our canvases.