Indefinite and Inevitable

Laura Savino's talk is about how we think about ourselves, specifically the adjectives we use and sometimes hear from others. She explores why we often feel like we don't measure up and how we can change that perspective. It's terrific and I highly recommend watching it.

There is an early moment that resonated with me so strongly that I immediately stopped so I could write it down. I’ve thought about it regularly since.

When we think that something is indefinite and inevitable, we’re a whole lot less likely to expend effort to change that thing.

I’m pretty sure a book could be written on that single sentence. I would like to read that book, actually.

In the context of the talk, she was referring to the big, broad adjectives we use to describe difficult situations, like "stressed" or "scared", and how those words can weigh on us. Eventually, they come to define how we see ourselves and then what was a season starts to feel permanent. How many of us have experienced that shift from “I can get through this” to “This hurt or fear isn’t going away and there is nothing I can do about it”? Why try to change something that is indefinite and inevitable?

Laura’s perspective spoke to me personally, but slowly, I began to see how it plays out at a much larger scale. Something similar happens when we try to process the problems we face together, whether in our neighborhoods, cities, or as humans sharing this planet. The challenges and suffering are difficult to come to terms with without being overwhelmed. They seem, in a word, insurmountable. If that's the case, what is there to be done?

Over and over, though, problems that were once seen as permanent have, in fact, been overcome. First, a group of people believed a better future was possible when no one else did. Then, they took a big, broad, overwhelming problem and found a way to make slow, imperfect, incremental progress toward a solution. They asked themselves, "What can we do in this place, at this time, to make things better?"

It’s the difference between accepting that it will always be this way and insisting that it won’t.