I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this quote from Maya Angelou lately:
I often gaslight myself for not knowing things it feels like I should’ve known. But actually I’m coming to see that what matters is that often in my life I have been doing the best I could based on what I did know. And no one can know everything. Now is the time not for dwelling on my past limitations, but recognising what I now know, and “doing better”.
This was brought to my mind a couple of times lately. In one situation, I was feeling righteous indignation about someone powerful’s poor knowledge and response to a damaging state of affairs. I caught myself feeling angry at them for their woeful lack of understanding. But then realised in many ways I was in their shoes not very long ago. I don’t have the same kind of power and responsibility as them, but I do have some power and some responsibility. And I also hadn’t taken the time and trouble to listen and understand; to know better.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But now I am beginning to know better, and attempting to do better. This is the way of hope.
The second situation where this sprang to mind was in listening to someone who recounted a great question she had been asked when facing a sticky situation; “What would the best version of yourself do?” Now I know that question, I think it may help me to know better and also to do better going forward. Although I am also making allowances for myself to sometimes do less well due to being tired or over stretched. (These doughnuts didn’t buy themselves today. And the missing ones didn’t eat themselves, either!…)