I am only one, but I am one. I can not do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
- Edward Everett Hale
I hadn’t heard of Edward Everett Hale before, but experience has shown me the Internet is excellent for dealing with this sorta thing. Wikipedia tells me Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 – June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and Unitarian minister, best known for his writings such as "The Man Without a Country", published in Atlantic Monthly, in support of the Union during the Civil War. He was the grand-nephew of Nathan Hale, the American spy during the Revolutionary War.
Now that I have Edward’s identity sorted out I can concentrate on what he supposedly said. I say “supposedly” because I’m fully aware I got the quote from the internet, and sadly, there has to be a small leap of faith in doing so. When I first read the quote I was absolutely certain it was the product of the me generation and humbled by the assumption those who came before us were not quite as smart as we are today (I mean electricity was a novel thing back then). Good thing we have the Internet — it’s a vast achievement that reminds us constantly we do not know all that much, and sadly, we’ve forgotten more than we dare to admit.
The exploration of the human condition has been an endeavour over the millennium so we probably shouldn’t assume Edward Everatt Hale was the first to put pen to paper regarding individuality and its innate power — although he does have a meme so he has that going for him. And because of it, I couldn’t help but put some thought into it.
I am only one, but I am one — a reminder that you are the fundamental building blocks for everything done as a species (or not done), and because of it, you have the potential to do something important.
I can not do everything, but I can do something — an acknowledgement and recognition that you have skills, abilities, and character, and you can achieve something. Alas, it’s also a reminder the universe is rather large, so you can’t everything or do not have the ability. However, there is no excuse in simply doing nothing.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do — a reminder to focus on what you have and what you can do, and not be distracted by lamenting or striving for what you can’t. Achievement will never be found if don’t focus on your strengths and abilities.
How does that song go again? Oh yes, “Two outta three ain’t bad”.
I am only one, but I am one — check. Can not do everything, but I can do something — check. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do — wait, what about identifying your weaknesses and developing a plan to improve? Oversimplifying, as I am apt to do, there seems to two philosophical camps; find your strengths and rally all your energy around them, or identify your weaknesses, develop them into strengths, and strive for balance (I belong in this camp). “Find what you are really good at and then go all in to make the most of it” — it’s pithy and I do like the ring of it. Maybe my approach has been wrong all these years, although arguable I haven’t done so bad.
I’m probably going to have to consult with the Internet again but in the mean time this is where I’ve landing —
I am, and that is important. I have talents to do something, and I will. I have been given a lifetime to figure out how to get it done, although it’s not as long as you think.