The Thought for the Day/Alex Haley

He decided, as usual, that it was wisest that he mind his own business…
Alex Haley
Roots: The Saga of an American Family


Roots: The Saga of an American Family remains one of the finest books we have ever read. Some, not us, might quibble over its historical accuracy and we would have preferred Alex Haley (1921-92) not have paid Harold Courlander $650,00 for stealing passages from his novel The African. We’re novelists ourselves here and it is beyond comprehension that someone would use other people’s material without attribution, but us humans can be interesting creatures sometimes. Maddeningly, we only jotted down the quote and not which character the quote referred to.

Minding our own business is nothing more than one way to eliminate outside influences from dominating our lives. The great message of this feature is that we must live from the inside out, we must answer to the calling that is inside all of us, we must maximize the talents we were born with while minimizing the time spent reacting to outside influences. This is difficult if we are using our time for fretting about other people’s affairs.

This is not always easy. Us humans are social creatures and it is both easy and fun for us to butt into the lives of others. This despite the fact it produces no real benefit for anyone and bogs down our minds and wastes our time on things that have no direct bearing on us. Sometimes it causes resentment and, of course, fretting about other people’s lives takes time for us paying attention to our lives.

This is problematic. Not only is our time on this planet finite, unless we are in possession of a death warrant, we don’t know when it’s going to end, either. That is why the more time we spend attending to our lives, the more we are going to get out of our lives.

The wise know when it is best to assert yourself and when it is best to mind one’s business. Usually, it’s the latter and when in doubt, butt out. You can always interfere later. Until then, those that get on in this life don’t worry about others. Instead, they have a plan for their lives, they work that plan and they have the patience to see it through to the end.

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

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