“I did then what I knew how to do.
Now that I know better, I do better.”
– Maya Angelou
This quotation has been simmering away at the back of my mind for a few months now.
I find myself thinking about it in several different ways:
As a reminder to forgive my past self for follies.
I did then what I knew how to do. I did what I did according to what I thought at the time. Now I know better, I can do better.
As a way to accept other people.
If someone does something that seems inexplicable to me – which I see either as a strangely misguided choice, or as an astonishingly good one that I can’t imagine being able to make – they know different things to what I know. The world looks different through their eyes. Things that seem impossible to me may be doable to them – and vice versa.
As a challenge to do what I know is right.
Given the things I now know, do I live them out? If I know better, do I really do better? On the one hand, this is a huge challenge. On the other, I can accept that my current knowledge is limited, and hope that in future when I know more, I can do more. For now, I just have to do what I can, with what I have, where I am.
(but that’s a subject for a future post)