“Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” John Wooden
I get asked many times a week how I am able to “do what I do” all the time with regard to animal welfare – the volunteering, the networking, the writing. There have been times I have had to step away from it, for sure. And even I sometimes wonder how I stomach all the heartwrenching stories I am exposed to every day.
I guess it boils down to just focus. You have to focus on the good stories, the good results, on doing the best that you can in each moment. As the saying goes –
“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” ~Kenji Miyazawa
Otherwise it does become impossible to continue, you would just get mired down in the tragedies. It’s more than optimism. Optimism is a weak sister to focus. Optimism is easily beat down when faced with terrific stories of neglect, abuse, and stupidity each day. Focus saves you – drives you to keep plugging away to create and spread the joyful stories.
That’s not to say that you can beat that kind of negativity back all the time and not address it. Those people are the ones that end up in the strait jackets or robbing pharmacies for prescription drugs. So, a few times a week, I let myself cry. I can’t cry each time I learn of a heartbreaking situation or result. I wouldn’t be able to leave the house.
So, every so often, I just sit and have a good cry. I cry for the lost dogs that get killed at the shelter because their families were one day late checking there for them. I cry for the neglected, emaciated dogs that die of hunger and tick fever. I cry for the dogs and cats that literally get dumped like trash in dumpsters and canals – some of them make it, some don’t. I cry for the senior dogs that get dumped at the kill shelters and euthanized – because their owners wanted a younger dog, or didn’t want to deal with an older any more. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t just cry for the animals, I cry for the kids that get left in the hot cars and die, I cry for the families of plane crash victims, and for the children killed by bombs on a beach in a war-torn country.
And then I make myself to stop focusing on the things that I can’t help, the things that have already happened, the negative outcomes – and turn my focus to the things I must do that day, on the love I have to give and get, and the small things I personally can do to try and make my corner of the world as good as it can possibly be.