Monday, June 12, 2006

One small idea

I’m one who wants to find the entire solution right away. When a problem looms, I want to categorize it, figure it out, set a strategy and fix it. Sometimes this makes sense; other times, I can only accomplish this by sheer force of will. You know the results aren’t that great, therefore, and I wind up having to regroup or do over.

Lately when things have gotten too complicated even for developing a concrete strategy, I’ve found myself wailing, “What do I do now?” And if I’m looking for a big answer that will solve the whole problem in one gulp, I’m invariably disappointed. But sometimes, if I calm myself and listen, I get *one* idea. One little beam of light that gives me just the next step.

I love this story from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

[T]hirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

One thing at a time. Just do that one thing, and trust that it’s leading to the whole solution.

Like recently I’ve been trying to sort through a very knotty problem that came to a head last week. Major conflagration and disaster with someone close to me. I went to bed with no answer in sight, and spent a long night in despair. I prayed for the big answer that would give me peace, and got nothing. Not even a spiritual pat on the head to reassure me things would be okay. What am I going to do? I can’t go on like this!

I had to get up in the morning for a 7am meeting, which I didn’t think I could do but it went well anyway. A few friends who knew some of what I was going through offered some encouraging words. Huh, I thought. Maybe I can get through this. Maybe it’s just about getting through today. One day at a time.

On the drive home I got just one idea, to call someone and ask for a favor. The person was fine with the idea, even delighted to help. In effect, her agreeing to the favor allowed my entire weekend to relax. What a gift. This gave me the energy to face the problem again a few days later.

So I’m learning the power of one small idea, as opposed to huge policy decisions. One small idea can get you what you need right now. And all we ever need is what we need right now. We don’t really need anything tomorrow or the next day. When that gets here, it will then be right now. So how about letting right now happen?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 6/12/2006 08:53:00 AM, Blogger rentavet said...

Laura -

Another inspired post, thank you!

And the idea of "one small idea" made the following citation from this week's Christian Science Bible Lesson pop out:

"Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud." Science and Health, p. 518:19-21

I'm now inspired to appreciate these "buds" in their lovely light rather than rushing them into blossoms. Love will unfold them in the right time, so let's glorify the buds today.


At 6/12/2006 09:21:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

How wonderful! thanks for that Diane, lovely ideas.


At 6/12/2006 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

This from my friend Bill:

Your post reminds me of some of the lyrics we sang this weekend during our choral concert. From one of Jerry Herman's (composer of "Hello, Dolly!" and "Mame") lesser known shows "Dear World":

"One person can beat a drum
And make enough noise for ten;
One person can blow a horn
And that little boom
And that little blare
Can make a hundred others care.

And one person can hold a torch
And light up the sky again.
And one little voice that's squeaking a song,
Can make a million voices strong.

If one person can beat a drum,
And one person can blow a horn,
If one person can hold a torch,
Then one person can change the world!

There may be an army of them
And only a handful of us,
And how can a poor little band fight a mighty regime.
There may be a legion of them,
And only a parcel of us,
But it isn't the size of the first,
It's the size of a dream!

If one person can beat a drum,
And one person can blow a horn,
If one person can hold a torch,
Then one person can change the world!"

The idea that a small idea can lead to an ultimate solution is mirrored for me in these words.

At 6/13/2006 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Brittany said...

Thank you for this posting. I actually have been working with the very same ideas. I resently graduated from college leaving myself with endless opportunities of paths to take in life. Of course it was a little overwellming at first. Everyone seemed to be asking me what I was planning on doing after graduation and for a while I didn't have an answer for them, but after I recognized the lesson that you presented in this post (take it one day at a time) I had more faith that GOd was directing my life, and boy have I been blessed.
I got an internship in the area that payed really well but they did not provide housing, so I looked into house sitting and as a last resort rooms to rent. I lined up a 3 week house sitting position and a rented room for the rest of the summer, thinking that was my only option, but God had a different plan for me. The house that I was house sitting for was for was a woman who is a CS nurse. The other day I answered her phone. A woman who needed nurse care was calling. I explained to her that the nurse was out of town and that I was just house sitting for her. Well, the woman on the other line seemed to perk up when I mentioned that I was house sitting. It turned out she was looking for someone to 'house-sit' for her and her pets doing the things that a woman who was confinded to a recliner couldn't do. She offered free room and board! I couldn't believe it! The job was exactly what I was looking for and the timing for when she needed me was perfect, plus it was closer to my internship.(oh, and as an added bonus she has a hot tub.) Like I said, I truly am blessed! Both of our needs were met graciously.

At 6/13/2006 10:57:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

wow! even a hot tub! I love that.



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