“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E. B. White
I recently added this quote to my facebook profile, and although I immediately resonated with it – the more I think about it, the more I’m not so sure that improving the world and enjoying the world must always be mutually exclusive.
First, the reason the quote first stuck out to me is that my life is defined by a tension between, as some might put it, things of this world and things not of this world. I do have a desire to live simply, to befriend and assist those less fortunate (monetarily speaking) than myself, to reduce, reuse, and recycle, to make the world a better place and not put my hope in material things. But, I also have a desire to be comfortable, to spend my free time traveling, to eat good food and go to shows, to buy things that make my surroundings more appealing. It’s something I’ve often struggled with, and the quote seems to identify some of that struggle.
However, upon closer inspection, I do believe there are ways to do both. For example, for the past couple of years, my husband and I have volunteered once a week with an organization that provides a hot cooked breakfast and a sack lunch each weekday for anyone in our community who needs it. Over that time, we’ve gotten to know some of the regular guests, and seeing them has become a highlight of our week.
This is just one example, and so while for now the quote will remain on my facebook wall, I will continue to look for ways in which improving and enjoying the world are manifest in the same things.