Taken together, the world’s chaos is all too much.
Too much anger, too much uncertainty, too much belligerence between heads of state, too much contempt on the internet, too much violence, too much ignorance—even too much rain.
I ask what I can even do in the face of a world like this.
Every month or so, I choose a theme to focus my thoughts. I’m calling this month Surplus September. It’s a dumb name, but it’s an easy, two-word reminder of what I want to practice in the next few weeks.
Surplus: more than sufficient, an amount of something left over when requirements have been met.
I keep myself fairly busy doing fairly good things. I work for a company that helps people. I try to be a good parent and spouse and friend. I generally meet the requirements of my commitments.
But what if I go beyond the bounds of what feels required.
Required: Pick my daughter up from school. Surplus: Put away my phone for the hours between pickup and dinner time to be present with her.
Required: Show up prepared for a work meeting. Surplus: Actively make that meeting more enjoyable for myself and people in it.
Every inch of surplus adds territory to a better world, expands my own capacity for good.
What do you want more of? Create some of it right where you are.
If you want peace, talk to someone you disagree with, treat them like a human. Brush up on your geography.
If you want a variety of voices to be heard, listen to a variety of people. Read books they wrote.
This weekend, after starting to write this post, I argued with my husband. While I wrote at my computer, my daughter interrupted me and I snapped at her: When do I ever get a minute to just finish a complete thought?
This month already offers a surplus of opportunities to practice.
I can’t change the world, but I can change myself. And the changes I make in myself over time may change the sliver of the world I’m in.