How do I maximize my usefulness to others? How do I assess my strengths and weaknesses honestly and make good choices about how hard I should push myself at any given time? How do I repeat this assessment frequently and deal with the self-doubt that tries to make me push myself too hard out of guilt or shame? How do I resist the impulse to apologize constantly for what I am doing and the fact that it’s not enough?
I’ve written on this theme before. I’m sure I will write about it at intervals for the rest of my life. Two years ago I wrote this, in fact:
“I don’t want to live my life as a walking apology, but I also don’t want to become the kind of person who sees no need for regrets about how my condition and/or my shortcomings affect others.
Where is the line; where does a realistic assessment of my condition end and making excuses begin?
Could I be allowed to stop making promises, or even implied promises, that set me up for the inevitable apologies?
There’s no way for anyone else to assess, or even for me to assess reliably, the subjective amount of effort I’m making. So how can I, when unable to perform consistently, express that the thing, principle or person is still important?
Can I ever be good enough, do enough, love enough to have it mean something?”
Looking that up was interesting because it really made my point: This theme recurs. It recurs because the question is always relevant in a world that needs us to do our best. It’s not going to stop recurring, and I need to meet it with honesty and humility whenever it arrives.