The following poem was written by an unknown monk living in the 11th century. It’s relevance to today is, however, undiminished.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
The poem reminds me of a quotation by Meister Eckhart, an 8th century monk, “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”