"Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." -- Rosa LuxemburgI think it was only recently that I became a list-maker. I resisted for a long time, imagining myself to be too "free and easy" to be bound by something so inane as a list. I think that, as I've begun to take on more responsibilities, the to-do list is the only thing that helps me to see I'm making progress through the mountain of work that might sit in front of me, one little challenge at a time.
It's these small challenges that have been driving my life recently: changing the things I eat, the amount of time I exercise, the way I approach problems. When we moved this summer, I made a list of things and packed one box a day from this list. I learned how to spend thirty minutes less on the couch each day. I changed from 2% milk to skim milk. I'm trying to stop saying, "The problem with you is" and instead saying, "When I did that, I did not help the situation. Let me try to do better." And, as I slog through these challenges, at times I cross things off my lists, look up, and I see how far I've come.
I look around to the people around me, and I see this forward movement: a friend of mine is moving toward a new job, more in his field, what he's wanted for a long time... another friend is working with her dog, trying to find a way to figure out her dog's issues, one walk at a time... Yet another friend is trying to get out of a terrible work partnership by seeing it as a chance to learn to be more authoritative and respected, and gosh darn it, it's working... slowly... surely...
One day, as I was driving home from work, I realized that I'm becoming less patient with people who are determined to stay where they are, however unhappy they are in that state. I can sympathize, because for a long time, I thrived on the adrenaline of dredging up old, unhappy emotions, reliving the upset until the catharsis of tears or anger would burst through me. But I think I stayed there because I thought the way out was too far out of my reach.
I had to learn that the only way out of quicksand is to move slowly, one small movement at a time.
Perhaps this is why I like handmade things. I am amazed by the process, however slow, of things changing from one thing into something else. Knitting thousands of nupps into this shawl was aggravatingly slow, but the result was well worth it. Ripping out the shoulders in this sweater was hardly inspiring, but it's one of my favourites now. My projects this summer are slow off the needles, but they're growing, one peaceful row at a time.
Perhaps it is also that, the older I get, the more aware I am of the passage of time, and how precious it is. I'm realizing that I can't just wile it away, fretting and worrying. It's good to make use of the time I've got. I can't just stay in one place... I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, breaking the big problems into little tasks to cross of the list.
Today, I am inspired by the big changes brought about by small challenges. Sometimes, even when you feel like the smallest creature faced with the biggest mountain to climb, it's easier to think of it as a bunch of trips from one rock to the next. See the example below for your reference. He's never been one to worry about big climbs: