Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When You Don't Know What to Do...

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”


“When you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do.”  I wrote that on Facebook a couple of years ago.  It was a guiding principle that enabled me to write my first blog.  It is a guiding principle that helps me now.  At the moment I don’t know what to do about certain situations in my life.  The details don’t matter, because there will always be times of uncertainty.  What matters is how I handle things now.  When this particular situation is over, and eventually it will be, I want to be able to look back and know that I did my best, that I used my time well, and that I stayed calm and grateful.  So what do I do?
First, it’s good to go back to what I know.  I know the following:
·      I want to live with my Muse in my house on the beach.
·      I want to write.
·      I want to fulfill all of my goals.
·      I want money in the bank.

Okay, so my desires are still the same.  Now I want to review my goals.
·      Walk at least 30 hours
·      Write 100 more blogs.
·      Do 40 more radio shows.
·      Put 20 more things on eBay.
·      Read for 40 hours.
·      Reduce my debts by 20% or more.

Those, too, are the same.  I am progressing on some of them, and need to focus on others.  But everything is good there.  It’s just that my goals seem so far away right now.  I feel like I’m fighting a battle (I am) and I don’t know what the outcome will be (I don’t).  So all I can do is throw myself deeper into my work.  I can write.  I can clean.  I can get more things out of my life.  I can sell more things on eBay.  I can read. 
I can’t, or shouldn’t, do the following:
·      Stop working because I feel discouraged or uncertain
·      Waste time
·      Feel sorry for myself
·      Give up on my goals

What am I trying to say?  What is this blog about?  It’s about two things.  First, it’s about the blog itself.  I’m writing because I said I would, because I have a goal and the only way to reach that goal is to sit here and do my work.  
Second, this blog is about the process.  In order to get from A to B, I have a long journey to take.  Like the Lord of the Rings, I am on a quest and, at the moment, I’m in the middle of it.  I can’t turn back because I’ve come too far.  Even if I could turn back, I wouldn’t.  There’s nothing left for me where I was.  It’s not the same and neither am I.  Turning back would kill me.  If I’m going to die, I’d rather do it moving forward. 
I also can’t stay here.  This middle ground is farther than where I once was, but if I stop now, I will live a life of defeat and sadness, because I didn’t finish my journey.  In Wolverine, Chris Claremont wrote,
“Sure, it’s scary.  But what’s the alternative?  Stagnation – a safer, more terrible form of death.  Not of the body, but of the spirit.  An animal knows what he is and accepts it.  A man may know what he is – but he questions.  He dreams. He strives.  Changes. Grows.”

The way ahead seems long and uncertain.  I have absolutely no guarantee that I will succeed.  That’s why this forest is dark and scary.  And this is part of the process.  This is exactly what happens when one sets a goal and pursues it.  I am risking everything to be in the place where I am supposed to be.  This is the part that isn’t fun, isn’t romantic, and isn’t certain.  But there is no turning back.  There is no Plan B.  There is no other option. 
So all I can do is put one foot in front of the other.  I have my goals.  I keep moving towards them.  As long as I move forward, I will find my path.  Even if I have to take a step back to assess, I need to keep moving forward.  It helps to remember Dorothea Brande’s words:

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right about face which turns us from failure to success.

It is impossible to fail.  I don’t know how I will reach my goals.  I just know that I will.  This is not an empty platitude or wishful thinking.  It’s a promise that I’m not going to give up.  I’m not going to stop until my Muse and I are sitting happily in our house on the beach.  When I get there, I will do what got me there:  Get Started and Keep Going.