Do What You Can

"Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” –Theodore Roosevelt

by Dani Yokhna

When I let my mind wander (which is more frequently than I’d like to admit), I’m often struck by just how small I am in comparison to this great wide world of ours. I think about how large my town or my state is, and just how little of it I’ve actually seen, and then I remember that there are 49 more states that I’ve not fully explored, not to mention hundreds of other countries, each with their own beautiful sights to see and exciting attractions, both natural and manmade, to experience.

Then I remember that every other person that populates these cities, states and countries—all 7 billion of them, from the cashiers at the local grocery store and the baristas at my favorite coffee shop to the scientists in Antarctica and the monks in Tibet—is just as multifaceted as I am, with similar thoughts, needs and desires, and it suddenly becomes very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. I am just one tiny person in one tiny corner of this great big planet, no matter how important or complex I think I am.

This line of thinking has the tendency to quickly turn from awe and wonder to insignificance: What can I do to change anything in the grand scheme of Earth, especially the giant issues that face our world and its people? Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed or inconsequential, I take solace in the famous Teddy Roosevelt quote above. No matter what problem you face, it’s not about the size or scope of what you’re doing to combat it; it’s about taking the initiative to combat it at all.

World Food Day was earlier this week, and if you’re one of the lucky five-sixths of America who knows where their next meal is coming from, it may seem hard to get motivated to help the hundreds of thousands of hungry people in our country. You may think, “What can I do? My efforts won’t matter anyway,” but if you can help feed one person even one meal, you’ve already made a difference in that person’s life. (Here are five vital ways that farmers can help end hunger.) You’ve given them a full belly, vital energy and nutrients they need to survive, and a brief moment of peace of mind, free of their constant food-related worries.

The next time you feel weighed down by anything, be it endless farm chores, financial strain or worries about the future, remember these words of wisdom. There’s always something you can do to help solve the problem that’s plaguing you, and even if your efforts don’t completely erase the issue, you’re now one step closer to that end than you were. Do what you can, where you are, and with what you have—you’ll be surprised how effective you can truly be.

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