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Marilyn Englander: Aphorisms for Tough Times

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 (Marilyn Englander)

Sometimes a cliché is just a cliché. But Marilyn Englander has found that right now some clichés light a path to bearing up in difficult times.

We are in great need of the wisdom of the ages right now.
I wake up each morning asking when it all will be over — pandemic, politics, fires, smoke. Round and round my mind goes.

But then I hear my father counseling all through his life, “This too shall pass.”

Other trite aphorisms that adults ladled out when I was a child suddenly no longer irritate, but offer homey comfort: “All in good time. Where there’s a will, there’s a way; Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

It’s been a long haul for everyone. But I got a head start on most people due to months of planning for major surgery in February. I knew patience and a religiously positive attitude were going to be essential during recovery. So I listened to mindset lessons, meditation programs, made peace with being shut in for a long time.


Then everyone got thrown into the soup together. We’re all struggling.

By keeping my head down and attitude up, grinding through physical therapy, I made good progress in surgery rehab. So I broadened the approach — writing hundreds of Get Out the Vote postcards, volunteering and giving to food banks, fireproofing our yard, making masks.

Finishing up my last voting postcards this week, I realized that all this time, every time I’d sat down to write, I’d start singing to myself, “Step by step the longest march can be won .../ Many stones can form an arch, singly none…” the mineworkers’ unionizing lyrics that Pete Seeger set to music a half century ago. My spirit needed it.

Believing that little by little we can overcome, that time will heal, has provided solace through years of worries — about family, work, money, loss. I need that belief now as never before.

So, heading into these last days before the election, I am again reminding myself: “This too shall pass. All in good time. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

With a Perspective, this is Marilyn Englander

Marilyn Englander is a North Bay educator.

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