Doing What’s Small but Mine
“Confront the difficult while it is still easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.” Stephen Mitchell translation of Tao Te Ching
Zen and the Tao are in total agreement regarding something I consider of utmost importance: taking responsibility for things within your sphere of control (which is generally very small). The flip side is refusing to take responsibility for things one has zero influence over.
Much of the suffering I see among the people I know is from trying to take responsibility for other people’s issues or from not taking proper responsibility for the things that they can be held accountable for. To take responsibility for someone else’s responsibilities is the essence of codependence and dysfunction. To not take responsibility for one’s life is irresponsible and non-functional. Dysfunction is when a behavior attempts to accomplish something and fails. Non-function is when a person doesn’t make the effort to address a situation at all.
I went to all the trouble of getting an MBA and am not using it at the moment. I feel irresponsible, but the reality is that I am devoted at the moment to making my husband’s (probably few more) years comfortable. The past few years have threatened to make me hyper-responsible (taking responsibility for my stuff and everyone else’s, semi-dysfunctional). My feelings of responsibility have become somewhat detached from reality, as in, “No homework? When I wake up, I’ll go to class.” Old habits die hard.