Serenity or Rage

20 Jun

** Best-known form according to WikiPedia:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
[attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr]

This prayer has comforted untold numbers of people facing adversity. It’s so popular that most people have no idea there is a more than one verse.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
[Dylan Thomas]

While Dylan wrote about death, I believe it was also about never giving up, even if you’re losing. Fighting until your last breath.

I’m diverted from a writing subject. Every now and then, my mind starts a thread and goes around and around in a loop. I see no place to jump off, no resolution. So, perhaps if I blog about it, I can close the loop…or not.

Serenity or Rage?

Do you accept or do you rage? People are different. Different views, different tolerances, different tipping points. Add in different levels of importance.

A college student is taking a lower level class he needs to pass to move to an upper level for his major. He is doing poorly. Does he accept that he can’t get a good grade and withdraw, thereby getting behind in his plan to graduate at a certain time? Or does he stay in class, plugging away, taking the chance that a poor grade will lower his GPA? Maybe he’ll look into tutoring, but that’s not a guarantee he do better. Serenity or Rage?

A marriage. Vows. Trouble. Stay. Go. Serenity. Rage.

How do you know?


Posted by on June 20, 2011 in conflict, Idaho


19 responses to “Serenity or Rage

  1. Liz Fredericks

    June 20, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Wow, Janis – way to start the day with a challenging blog! 😉 Excellent! I love this dilemma because not only do we all struggle with the tension between passive and active (e.g., different levels of importance, tipping points), but it’s central to some of the best plots I’ve read. As Meredith noted last week, word selection matters and you’ve given us amazing snippets of the primary sides to life’s big question. Let me add to the paradoxical pair that you’ve given us. To acquiesce or aggress? Gosh, now you’ve gotten the loop in my head. What did Shakespeare claim for Hamlet – To be or not to be – you’ve given us the question. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s answers.

    • Janis McCurry

      June 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Yeah, it’s still looping around in my head. But, I like the acquiesce or aggress. We tend to denigrate “passive” behavior, but what if that person has achieved serenity?

  2. Clarissa Southwick

    June 20, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Great question, but I’ll be no help at all. I actually do both and/or try to have it both ways. LOL. Eventually, I get to a place of serenity, and I always ask myself why I didn’t start out there in the first place.

  3. Janis McCurry

    June 20, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    I suspect that all of us have to just do the best we can. Sometimes we will be right. Sometimes we’ll be wrong. Sometimes there will be no answer.

  4. Patti Yager Delagrange

    June 20, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to something I want. Call me stubborn but I don’t give up. I would stick with the college class and do the best I could, no matter the outcome. I don’t like to drop things I’ve started. I like to see things to their end. I believe we have to try to do the best we can before we drop out.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    • Janis McCurry

      June 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      Patti, good for you. Thanks for dropping by Gem State Writers.

  5. Meredith Conner

    June 20, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    I have to admit – I’m with Clarissa on this one. I tend to be a bit of both. I think for me the ultimate question is “how important is it?” Writing? Full steam ahead. Jump the mountains. Ford that stream. That thing my Mom said that annoyed me? Well, she’s my mom and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Is that passive? It doesn’t linger and doesn’t nag at me. I’d call that serenity or at least acceptance. Perhaps I acquiesced in a non-aggressive manner? Either way I’m still good with it.
    Great post Janis!

    • Janis McCurry

      June 20, 2011 at 10:33 AM

      Thanks, Meredith. Priorities do affect the decision-making process, don’t they?

  6. Peggy Staggs

    June 20, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Very interesting question. I’m with Clarissa and Meredith I tend to do both. Because I moved around so much as a kid I learn to adapt and pick my battles. When I decide it’s worth the fight, I’m in it for the long haul. But, I’m a looper too. I worry about things until I drive people crazy. I need therapy.

    • Janis McCurry

      June 20, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      It all comes down to ifs. Will it work if I persevere? What will happen if I succeed? Should I be careful of what I wish for. Yep, it’s not easy.

  7. Steph Bochenek

    June 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I heard a woman speak years ago and she said something that has always stuck with me. I’m the type of person who will tend to rage at things or people who really bother me. This saying has helped me get perspective many times over the years. “Do you want to be right or do you want to have peace?”
    My first reaction is both but when I stop to think, I’m choosing peace more often the older I get. Peace feels so good.

    • Janis

      June 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

      Great point. Thanks for the thought, Steph.

  8. Carley Ash

    June 20, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    I agree with Steph – the older I get, the more I let things go.

    • Janis

      June 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

      Thanks, Carley.

  9. lynn mapp

    June 20, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    Janis. I’m thinking. You know I hate doing that, even now. Powerful.

    • Janis

      June 20, 2011 at 8:53 PM

      We all have the potential for power. We just have to find what kind.

  10. thepenmuse

    June 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Wow, what a great post. I always loved the serenity prayer. It gets me through a lot as a person. Also the poem about rage is a good one to because you can use rage to your advantage. I used to use my anger to do art and it helped me a lot to draw and paint. Shows us how interesting we are as people and as humans. We have some many strengths.

    • Janis McCurry

      June 21, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      True. Both strengths and weaknesses make up who we are. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Mary Vine

    July 3, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    Reminds me of this quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Alva Edison. And does anyone ever truly reach serenity?
    Thanks, Janis.


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