And the Wisdom to know the Difference: 10 Things I Cannot Change


The Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, change the things can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

God Grant me serenity and wisdom.

10 things I cannot change:


On the Corner of 16th and Dolores
I cannot change my age

1. I cannot change my age. I did not create the ageist attitudes that afflict this culture but I can change the way I respond to them. I don’t have to believe that growing older is a tragic personal failure.

Seen in a Shop Window on Valencia Street-2
I cannot change the choices of others

2. I cannot change the political choices made by my countrymen. But I don’t have to be silent when I believe those choices are destructive and wrong. I can work with other people to enact a political agenda that is more consistent with my beliefs.

Seen in a Shop Window on Valencia Street
I cannot change history

3. I cannot change the history of slavery in the United States. But I can change the present.  I will be alert to the emergence of new forms of slavery and do my best to resist them.


4. I cannot change racism but I don’t have to silently agree to pretend that it doesn’t exist or that it is justified.

So Homo

5. I cannot change the homophobia of other people but as a gay man I can work to become the best person I can be as a way to counteract it in myself.

The Shame is Ours

6. I cannot change homelessness but I can resist blaming the victims. I can use my intellect and my skills as an artist and writer to state and restate my profound conviction that homelessness is a crime against humanity.

A Day in His Life

7. I cannot change the stigma against people with psychiatric illnesses but I don’t have to allow it to define or limit me.

All Children are Sacred

8. I cannot change the cruelty of my past or the betrayal of my trust as a child. But I can change my present and my future; I do not have to tolerate or accept destructive people who betray my trust.

Maybe Everyone Is

9. I cannot change the mistakes I made in ignorance; but I can accept responsibility for the pain I’ve caused and humbly and without expectations offer my apologies.


The Dissociative

10. I cannot change that I dissociate and have episodes of depression. But I don’t have to accept the lie that these problems are the result of personal failure or weakness. I can see that it takes strength and resilience to survive and thrive in this world, and that I have plenty of both.

RG (c) 2015 All Rights Reserved



All images (c) Rob Goldstein 2015 All Rights Reserved

Graffiti art photographed in San Francisco by Rob Goldstein




67 thoughts on “And the Wisdom to know the Difference: 10 Things I Cannot Change

  1. I was in Vienna over the weekend and of course, I saw many homeless people. It was heartbreaking to realize that I cannot give them all something. There are simply too many. Also seeing how they are suffering from simply being homeless regardless of the health struggles they face. Really heartbreaking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why we need government Erika. We can’t solve these problems alone.

      Let’s say you gave ten dollars a week in small change to different people.

      That’s $520 a year.

      Imagine pooling that money with the money of billions of other people who contribute more or less to the pool based on income.

      Now you have billions of dollars.

      When properly used the Government is way for people to address social problems that no one can solve alone.

      The dirty secret of our times is that Roosevelt’s New Deal worked. The evidence is in the archives.

      It is demoralizing to contemplate solving homelessness as individuals.

      We can’t.

      We must make use our government to solve these problems. We know how to do this in the United States.

      All we have to do is study our history.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob, many thanks for sharing this. My boss sent me the Serenity Prayer, as often I would put on my Don Quixote armor and chase a windmill. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to try for the sake of trying, knowing your efforts will be futile. But, sometimes, just sometimes, you can make a little difference. I appreciate greatly how you phrased your version. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so powerful. I went through a lot of feeling helpless as our country caught a blaze. I felt so sick about it that I could even get up. But I got up because there are things I can do and I should focus on that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on sherriemiranda1 and commented:

    Wow, Rob, I can’t believe how much we think alike! Is it because of our “Artist’s Mindset”? Or could I actually believe beyond Hope that the majority of the people in the world have a similar belief system?!
    I will choose the latter, in the hope that we really can all “learn to get along.”
    Thank you so much for this amazing post! 😉 ❤
    Peace, love & equality for all,
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve had more than 5, but most of it was in childhood, so I’m not able to directly assess how much it helped.
        How different your childhood would have been with good therapy…Ah well, no ifs, only realities ❤ You’re brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It would have been completely different if someone from my Mother’s family had stepped in..but that’s not what happened…and somehow I found what I needed to survive and ultimately to thrive…and I suppose that’s all that’s important. But there will always be a hole in my life where there should have been a Mother.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a beautiful soul, Robert. This touched me from item number one! Our journey of discovery grows deeper with our age, as does our appreciation. When we stand and acknowledge our misgivings we humble ourselves before our higher power. At our weakest, we are profoundly stronger than we could ever have imagined. Bless you, and thank you for sharing. ☕️❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Danica,

      It seems as if we’ve entered a very dangerous global game and that once again the stakes are the survival of out species. We know what doesn’t work and I suspect that most of us know what we have to do. The question is whether we collectively have the courage to change what we can. We can’t change the fact that we die…but we can change the conditions that breed violence and murder.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you…It seems like the season for assessing the year’s accomplishments. I’m pleased to say that I have made alot of progress in the area of acceptance this year…thanks for leaving a comment.

      Liked by 2 people

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