Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed 6/26/2002 6:44 AM
Random Thought: Think "Mosquito!"

This morning I learned what it is to have your entire life flash before your eyes. On my walk, as the black, pre-dawn, heavy humid-filled air filled my lungs, and I thought I was drowning. Getting caught on the back leg of walk in a soaking downpour that had flash flood written on every teeming drop didn't help. All of this impending doom was also threatening to get in the ways of some reflections I was having of an extended e-conversation with a distraught "virtual" Australian friend during which up came the ole problem of the ole "system." Seeking solace, she felt overwhelmed by the complexity and vastness of "the system." She expressed an undermined confidence: "It's too complex for me.....There's nothing I can do....I have no choice....I have to act in a certain way....I feel outnumbered....The 'system' is too big." She ended her description of her situation with a resigned, "What can I do? I'm just a very small, insignificant cog in a vast system."

Then she asked, "How do you not let the 'system' overwhelm you?"

"I know exactly how you feel. I once felt that way and let the system get to me," I admitted to her. "But, now, I think 'mosquito,' especially when I feel that tingling of the 'system' breathing down my neck."

Before she could wrinkle her virtual nose in bewilderment, I continued. "Whenever I think I'm insignificant and can't make a difference, I remember that I'm in south Georgia. I go have a talk with a tiny mosquito."

I explained that a lot of us talk nobly about being part of something that is larger than ourselves, of following a sincere higher mission or having an authentic higher vision or having a genuine commitment of serving others. And yet, when it comes to "the system" of which we are a part, we talk of this largeness in ignoble terms of being trapped, threatened, isolated, devalued, unappreciated, controlled, and diminished into impersonal, servile and compliant submission.

That was me, too. For over a quarter of a century, I had looked at the challenge posed by imposing "the system" and used it as a bank in which I deposited and from which I withdrew excuses, rationales, and explanations. I accepted it rather than challenged it and filled my life with silent regrets. I blamed it when things went wrong and filled my secret thoughts with resentment. I used it as a reason to stop and to hold myself back, and filled my spirit with hidden feelings of failure. I always bragged how I used the system and ignored how it was really pushed me around, used me, misused me, abused me. I looked at "the system" in a way that defeated me, or, at least, limited me. It was convenient. I could look at it and not at me. I could blame it and I didn't have to take any responsibility.

A tad over a decade ago, without realizing it, I began to "think 'mosquito,'" although I didn't verbalize it that way. I began to change my focus. I slowly began to look closely at myself rather than survey "the system." At first, what I saw was not a pretty sight. I began to point fingers of responsibility at myself rather than fingers of blame at "the system." And, that was not a comfortable thing to do. I discovered that when I had been talking about the system, I was so often really talking about myself. I was not a victim of "the system." I had victimized myself. The system didn't dictate my behavior. I did. Or, at least, I gave "the system" permission to dictate to me. I was a prisoner of my own perceptions and thoughts. As I peered deeper inside me, I began to see a prettiness. I slowly realized that my success, achievement, happiness and fulfillment all depended not so much on "the system" and "others" out there, but rather on how I chose to view both myself and them. I saw that the most powerful and important control I have is over my own thoughts and actions. And, when I exercise that control, nothing has much control over me. I found, like all artists, it is through that self-control, from which emanates self-expression, that my greatest possibilities can be realized. So, I began writing a covenant with myself to "think 'mosquito.'"

Paradoxically, when I think of that tiny, insignificant, pesky pest, I find myself thinking significant and big--and maybe pesky--instead of thinking of the big system and feeling puny. I slowly realized, as I told my students yesterday, that the source of all possibilities laid within me, in my mind and heart, not in "others" or in the "system." I stop feeling surrounded, outnumbered or overpowered. I "just" let go of that feeling, leave it behind, grab hold to new feelings, and get started. As I took one small step after another, one day another, I began to understand that I have a very important role to play; I started valuing my worth and uniqueness; I began appreciating me; I slowly knew that I can rise about the annoyances and frustrations; I got that feeling that I can deal with the difficulties and get around the obstacles; I gained confidence that I can make it happen, and that nothing and no one has to stand in my way; and, I cut myself away from the herd.

It's not easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy; and, it's well worth getting that feeling of worthiness. It makes a difference and allows me to make sure I make a difference.

So, I think 'mosquito.'

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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