​​​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

Serenity means holding your taters

I have a cross-stitched rendering of the Serenity Prayer on my wall in my office.  The Serenity Prayer, in case you don’t know goes like this:

God grant me:

The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The Strength to change the things I can, and

The Wisdom to know the difference.

As prayers go, I think it’s a good one.  There are hardly any situations it doesn’t cover, it is completely non-denominational, and even the staunchest atheist can agree that it contains good advice.

I find myself pointing to it a lot during consultations. 

I know I’m more cynical than most.  That’s a job hazard of having been a lawyer since 1994.  I see people only when things are going badly in their lives.  Court really is a “you win some, you lose some” proposition, and it doesn’t seem to matter how ‘right’ you are, the law might not agree.  There is bit of dialogue in my upcoming novel[1] that goes like this: “You’re right. It is 100% not fair. But you know what else isn’t fair? Life. Not one damn fair thing has happened in my life. I’m not in the fair business, I’m in the law business.”

That seems like an indictment of the system, and maybe it is.  But it’s also true.  Even if you get the outcome you wanted, you still have to pay a lot of money which you may not have to get it. 

Court issues take forever.  We live in an instant-gratification world.  If people don’t text back in a half-hour we assume they’re ignoring us.  Email can be sent 24-7 and people will respond 24-7.[2]  I’m not police, fire, or EMS: everything I am capable of doing can only be done during business hours. So much of what I[3] do requires other people to do something first.  Other people, I’ve found, don’t have the same priority list I do.  That’s one of the things I ask God to grant me the Serenity to accept because I cannot change it.  Lord knows I’ve tried. 

My good friend and co-worker, Diane, is super southern and has a very colorful-southern way of making points.  When people get all hot and bothered because something isn’t happening as fast as they’d like it to, she says they need to “Hold their Taters.”  I liked that phrase so much that I bought us all foam potatoes that we can use as demonstrative aids.  Occasionally we’ll fling them at each other when we think the other person is not quite exercising the Wisdom to Know the Difference. 

I haven’t given up all hope.  I know there are things I Can Change.  It’s just that I save my Strength for those things, and I’m not going to use my ever-depleting reserves to tilt at windmills for someone who hasn’t achieved Serenity Now.   Even if they’re paying me.

I’m holding my taters.  I’m holding a whole collection of taters.  Are you?

-Lori B. Duff

Lori B. Duff is the President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.  In addition to her award-winning blog, she is the author of collections of humor essays, which can be found by clicking here:  Amazon.com.  Her novella, "Broken Things," released in September 2023 can be found by clicking here: Broken Things a book by Lori B. Duff (bookshop.org).  Her novel, "True North", will be released on August 27, 2024 by She Writes Press.  She lives in Loganville, Georgia, with her husband, rescue dog, and the carpet stains left behind by her adult children.  If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook or read her award winning books. 

[1] “True North” is scheduled to be released on August 27, 2024 by She Writes Press.  #ShamelessSelfPromotion

[2] Not by me.  I work a full-time job, maybe more hours than 40, but I am a human being with a life who is entitled not to check her work email at night or on the weekends.   

[3] Really, “we”, since all lawyers work this way.