This past week I attended lectures by Elizabeth Kolbert and by Dr. Paul Farmer, and have been reading Rebecca Solnit. Environmental journalist (and I’ve long been interested in environmental writing), an essayist extraordinaire (love the essay form), and a man who is making a difference in the world (who doesn’t aspire to make a little difference somewhere?) — inspiring and daunting as I wrestle with what I’m doing with my own life and what the future could hold. I’m flailing back and forth between being galvanized and frozen, hopeful and in despair, feeling like I’d better hop to it and feeling like it’s too late. Of course, both ends of the spectrum lack balance. The fact is, it is never too late to do something, anything, toward one’s potential. It’s all about that single step. And then the next one. Farmer was quite passionate in saying that even just having the right attitude about humanity is being part of the solution to our world’s problems. Kolbert offered no solutions, but one young woman from the Maldives spoke up to say that being required to be aware of what’s happening to the planet is a huge step toward action. In a recent Harper’s article, Solnit questioned our focus on being happy. She wrote: “Other eras and cultures often asked other questions than the ones we ask now: What is the most meaningful thing you can do with your life? What is your contribution to the world or your community? Do you live according to your principles? What will your legacy be? What does your life mean? Maybe our obsession with happiness is a way not to ask those other questions, a way to ignore how spacious our lives can be, how effective our work can be, and how far-reaching our love can be.” I wish for myself that the messages of this week work through my veins and become part of my cell matter.