Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mile after Mile, One Thing at a Time

I started this morning at five with coastal Maine sunshine streaming into our rented cottage. I took a few moments out on the shore to stare at the ocean and sky. All week, I did my writing on the deck with a marauding chipmunk working to put the fear of nature in me, but this morning we were driving home, so I packed the car, got the girls up, and we got on the road.

It turned out to be a ten-hour trip. Nine hours driving, thanks to Massachusetts traffic, and an hour of stops for gas and food. I drove. My wife gets motion sickness and needs to sleep through some of the trip. I make fun out of that some, but I like the challenge of driving the long distance and seeing what thoughts I generate. I wonder if I can make it the whole way. I usually can.

Arriving home late this afternoon, I opened the back of the car. So much stuff in there. Sigh. Could my wife and I unload, unpacked, wash, and sort it all? I grabbed a bag and started in, sure that it was that easy. One thing at a time. It wasn't even difficult.

These are things I'm likely to ignore if I don't write them down. That as much as anything is reason to write. It's no surprise that I drove a car from Maine to Syracuse today or that we were able to unpack our stuff. We've done it before. It's ordinary, but then again, no it's not.

These things are no more ordinary than finding ways to lose weight, publish a daily blog, or find a new way forward in life. Throwing in a load of laundry, cutting my hair, and tracking down a lost sweatshirt (why would I put it in the bottom of the bag with the beach towels?), these are things that any of us can do and do all the time. So how are they different from supposedly difficult things?

For one thing, they require long-term commitment. But they don't require a ten-year plan so much as a series of daily choices. If I want to be lighter, stronger, healthier, a grand scheme won't do it. I have to commit to simple changes:  weighing myself tomorrow morning and recording it on a spreadsheet, go for a run and a walk tomorrow, and eat vegetables instead of Doritos. The big goal is achieved through simple acts. I drove home today by getting on one road and driving until I needed to get on another. We unpacked the car by putting away one bag at a time.

It's like writing. I put this word down and then that one. When I've had my say and passed 750 words, I copy it to Blogger and edit down to 500 or so. No grand plan. I just start typing, see where it leads, then shape it into something.

Looking at life this way puts me in control, keeps me from playing the victim. Most everything is simply a matter of getting started and choosing to write on.