Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Sifoddling Along


By Marilyn Carnell

Blissful Coping

When sitting down to write, sometimes stories flood my mind - impatient to be told. I have never recognized that I had “writer’s block” before, but this month it has reared its ugly head. I simply don’t know what I can do to make things better.

Once I was a news junkie. I subscribed to newspapers and magazines; I watched or recorded news from several sources in order to keep up with local and world events.

In recent months, I could not bear the news and could only take it in small doses because none of it seemed to offer much hope for a better world. So many troubling things - COVID, climate change disasters, the war in Ukraine, and this week another horrific shooting of young children in Texas - have made me so embroiled in events that I was getting discouraged.

I have always tried to be a problem solver and tried to make a positive difference in my immediate world, but these catastrophes are beyond the ability of any individual to solve. The planet and society seem to hover near the point of no return. Ok. So that is a relief to say, accept reality and soldier on. I have great respect for the British “stiff upper lip” and “don’t complain, don’t explain” philosophies, so I will write a little about what I have been doing to cope.

I have been blessed to have had a long and overall good life. Although I was unaware of it for many years, I was born with white privilege, a major advantage in times past. I know what discrimination feels like because I was also born female. I broke through a few glass ceilings in a small way by being the first woman to work in certain areas of food manufacturing companies, but they always paid me significantly less than a man in any of my jobs. It is a relief to see that changing. When I left one company for a better-paying job, they had to hire three men to replace me, but I was making only ? percent of the salary of a male colleague. I got a big raise with that new job but later learned that I was still making less than half the salary of a male with similar experience and a bachelor's degree and I had earned a PhD. I never went hungry or suffered from extreme poverty, so I was lucky.

That luck included 23 years of education with no loan debt. Education has become less and less supported by a society that seems to see it as an opportunity to save money. It is a false economy. Sadly, I see little effort to change that. America became great by offering free public education to all and programs like the G.I. Bill.

Now that COVID has ebbed, I have once again left my safe nest to reenter the outer world. It is time to pass on knowledge and experience where it is welcome and I am keeping myself busy and engaged in life. Like my father before me, I refuse to be handicapped by physical restraints and do what I can with the abilities I still can use.

I have had four young women ask me to show them how to use a sewing machine and I oblige that.

I belong to a church that is passionate about racial equality, diversity, social justice, and the environment. I am working on a project to offer church space to the public to have access to free Wi-Fi and free coffee when it is not convenient to work at home, one of our new realities. We share space in our sanctuary with two additional very different congregations. Their only similarity is that they are immigrants from Africa. I view that as progress.

Writer’s block is just another name for inertia - a state of being unable to move or make a change. As summer approaches, this is a time to think about how we can all work on large or small things that will benefit others and, in return, benefit ourselves.

To my knowledge, there has been no one who has wholly made the entire world a better place than they found it, but it is still a worthy goal. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be writing a warm note to someone, sharing a ride, or being kind despite being annoyed.

I hope you find a project or goal that makes you and those around you happier.

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