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Do What We Can, When We Can, While We Can…

Do what we can, When we can, While Can…

It has recently occurred to me that we cannot always do everything we envision.  This might sound as a sobering reality in an otherwise even sobering, sad world, but it has its benefits and its positives.  The question this week, relates to what we can do, as catalysts of change within our present circumstance.

We must first recognize where we stand in our current circumstance.  Do we have the ability to change the whole system by ourselves?  With a group of people?  In one revolutionary moment or over a longer series of time with small, incremental steps?  We often desire the change, and then remember our current circumstance.  Alternatively, we will recognize our current circumstance and give up on acting as catalysts of change, because of personal circumstance or lack of belief in our ability.

I ask, that we do, both, simultaneously.  Be the change you wish to seek, yes!  However, let us also recognize the present circumstance and how we can best enact that change as a catalyst.  As an example, over the last year, I have just begun to believe that I can be a bigger part of the solution, that I can be the change that I wish to see in the world, specifically in the educational world, but I never stopped to think of my current or present circumstance.

I am married.

I am currently writing my thesis.

I am committed to spiritual things above all else.

I have parents and family who are aging and need support.

I have debt.  I have to eat.  I need warmth, shelter, and clothes.


I am possible.

I am attending an amazing college that allows dreams to come true.

I am relatively healthy, happy, young, and energetic.

I am outgoing, reliable, compassionate, and driven.

This is not a blog about what are my current circumstance vs. ways to be a catalyst of change, but rather, what are our collective circumstances AND what are ways to be a catalyst of change.  Tapping into our current state and still being a dreamer, allows us to then co-develop with our fellow catalyst’s and our fellow “similar circumstance individuals.”  Often times we believe we either, have to focus on our optimism or recognize the realism in our lives, while it is my contention, that if we do one or the other, we do not follow or solve either.

We must do what we can, when we can, while we can.  This is not to say we are to limit our motivation or dreams for change, or to stop ourselves short from enacting large, sweeping, changing actions; but rather, do all we can to enact that change.  We do so, when we can, given the time we are given, both in relation to all engagements in our lives and for the short time we are on this earth, and while we can, so that we can both remember that our time and energy both are short in terms of being a catalyst.

The dying words of Leonardo da Vinci included something along the lines of, paraphrasing, ‘I should have done more.’  These words coming from the man who is widely considered the most influential inventor who shaped the world, as we know it, of all time.  While admirable that da Vinci wanted to achieve more in his life, he was such a catalyst for change, and dreamt so big, that he did not even recognize the current state in which he existed.

I am not under the belief that I will accomplish all that I want, and neither will I stop fighting to achieve every ounce of my agendas.  However, from time to time, I will recognize, meditate, and be satisfied with what change I have made, so that I may be re-energized to continue to be a catalyst further.

And in so doing, I will do what I can, when I can, while I can.


About caseykcaronna

A 27 year old Master of Arts in Education Degree holder from the progressive, liberal arts school, Goddard College. I am interested in Holistic, Community, Progressive, Democratic and Student-Centered Education. I am currently a part-time employee with the Boy Scouts of America. I am writing my first book on holistic education and looking for full time employment in education, throughout the United States and Canada. I am interested in all things education and hope to make trans-formative changes to the educational system(s) in America and in the process help to improve the lives of the individuals in whom it serves.


6 thoughts on “Do What We Can, When We Can, While We Can…

  1. Casey,
    Your closing, “However, from time to time, I will recognize, meditate, and be satisfied with what change I have made, so that I may be re-energized to continue to be a catalyst further.” is so incredibly important. The need to re-energize, to regroup, to step back and reflect is crucial to maintaining a healthy go-go-go as a catalyst. Forging ahead without taking that time can cause one to not listen as actively to others and thus lose some opportunities to not only help others, but learn from them as well. The balance we need to maintain to live fully in the moment, yet build for the future in all areas of our lives, is really hard for passionate people many times. Thanks for the reminder to slow down, reflect and live for today as well.

    This post has probably changed my plans for the weekend. Thank you. I’m in need of some recharging right now.

    Wanting my brain to relax some,

    Posted by Paula White | April 29, 2010, 6:27 am
  2. I second Paula’s thought and amplify it. What I think you are writing about here Casey, and something none of the rest of us firebrands talked about yet, its the importance of quietness, soul quietness, and allowing a sense of satisfaction live alongside our equally powerful observations about how much we would like to do…how much is possible. I personally have very similar feelings to yours, that spiritual issues are at the center, along with nurturing and caring for other people. My life’s philosophy in some ways is summed up by Pema Chodron, “Do everything with your whole heart, your whole spirit, and also know that it is meaningless.” (Another Buddhist idea, “Abandon any hope of fruition.”) This abandonment, rather than creating despair, can bring a sense of satisfaction, of contentment, of a sureness of our place on the planet.

    Thank you for the reflection Casey. I really appreciate it.

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | April 29, 2010, 7:21 am
  3. Thank you Casey, Paula, and Kirsten! Always something here for me to think about or something that validates me ( ). I would fall apart if I didn’t regularly exercise and meditate – and when I get really busy and cut those out, I do fall apart. It’s something I don’t talk about enough when trying to help others be the change they want to see in the world, so thank you for the reminder of its importance.

    I also try to keep my goals very simple and focused. My only goal for education is helping students direct their own learning, discovering passions, finding resources and learning communities, not only surviving but thriving despite the current education system, and I want them to share this skill and passion for learning with others. That might sound complicated, but it’s really not. I don’t care so much about teaching content, as long as I teach learning.

    I’ll also be keeping that quote from Kirsten: “Do everything with your whole heart, your whole spirit, and also know that it is meaningless.” As someone with Buddhist leanings himself, it definitely is oddly comforting.

    Posted by Chris Fritz | April 29, 2010, 10:03 am
    • Chris, I was talking with a new friend last week, a fellow educator, and after observing my class he asked me, “So, how long did it take you to stop delivering content.” I said, “Eight and a half years.”

      It’s a seemingly impossible, deceptively simple step to take that makes a world of difference in classroom relationships and authentic learning.

      Wholeheartedly learning,

      Posted by Chad Sansing | April 29, 2010, 9:11 pm
  4. Casey, I’ll reflect on your message often in the coming days. In the same way some people say, “I’m no good at math,” I’m no good at recharging. I’ve tried to compensate with novelty. Maybe a few deep breaths – literally and metaphorically – would do me good.

    Thank you for your post.

    What I appreciate about catalysts is that they react with others. For me, finding a new friend and sojourner in teaching and learning is as rejuvenating as it gets outside of a beautiful story.

    In both regards, I appreciate your work here and our fellow catalysts’ work here.

    Without questioning,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | April 29, 2010, 9:19 pm
  5. Casey, this is a great motto, “We must do what we can, when we can, while we can.” And I can empathize with Da Vinci because there is so much that needs to be done in the world and only so much you can do in a lifetime. Once you wake up to this there’s an intensity of awareness that can’t die, that refuses to die. It urges one on day and night. I think we might call that purpose.

    I have questions for you, questions that I ask myself as someone who also strives (is striving contradictory to being spiritual?) to lead a a rich spiritual life, what is a spiritual life if not doing good in the service of others? What is wisdom if it is not practical and timely solutions to problems?

    In peace,

    Posted by Adam Burk | April 30, 2010, 6:18 am

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