More recently than I would like to admit, I found myself facing a blank wall. I had no idea what to do. My mind was howling with all the ways I didn’t know how to do the thing that I had to do.
It was a new kind of assignment for my job and nobody had done it before and nobody was telling me how or what exactly was wanted. I totally spent some time–okay, a lot of time–thinking about walking away. No shame in admitting my weaknesses, right? It’s okay to be human. I could walk away respectfully, and that would be an acceptable choice. Who could blame me?
Except I was the one who would have to sleep that night, and all the nights to come. It was not for other people that I was doing this. I wanted to stick it out, whatever happened.
Have anybody ever told you the thing about eating a jeep? There is an episode of MASH where Klinger, the highly lateral-thinking and problem-solving soldier decided he wants to eat a jeep. I forget why. But he sets out to break it down into the smallest parts. A little here, a little there, and before you know it, you have eaten the whole jeep.
The impossible just takes a little longer.
I heard the roar of the impossibility of what I had to do. I was so afraid of what would happen if I FAILED that I couldn’t even think. I knew I had to do something to get my mind clear.
I decided to pretend it didn’t matter that I failed. If it didn’t matter that I failed, what would I do?
What was the next piece I needed to start on? Just like eating that jeep.
Once I listened to what I knew I knew underneath the roar of the fear, I could get started.
The other week, I was playing Monopoly Jr with my daughter. That game is rigged to help the youngest person playing. So she almost always wins. Which is fine. She learns great things like counting and a little bit of reading with the Chance cards. I was about to lose, and Veronica wanted to change the rules so that I wouldn’t.
First, I like that she knows the rules are arbitrary. Second, what a tender heart that she wanted so spare me the pain of losing.
I had to explain that the game is about the fun of playing. Someone wins and someone loses, but it’s fun to play and that makes it worth it.
So. The game I was playing, the game at work where I might FAIL and LOSE, it is a game. Sometimes I fail. What did I want out of THIS game?
Like a video game, a fail or “getting killed” wasn’t really that serious. What I was playing for was a chance to get further in the adventure.
Cowering was not at all the point.
If I wanted to do this thing, to have this adventure, I had to start. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Do the thing right in front of me that I knew I knew.
If I could just clear my mind then the next thing, the next little thing would be apparent.
I held my breath, squeezed my eyes shut and asked myself “What is the next thing that needs to happen?”
Once I concentrated on that, then the next thing and the next thing was clear. I hope I can remember it sooner next time.