169: Find the Path

169: Find the Path

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Today I’m thinking about “the path” and how it’s really important that you find it.

Yesterday I drove through crazy fog today to meet a friend for coffee. We haven’t seen each other in three years, and I was super excited to her. I got there around noon. We caught up and told stories and laughed. At 1:55pm, the cashier/barista came to our table to let us know their establishment now closes at 2 pm.

I’m assuming this was because of staffing shortages. I say that because I have another friend who sends me snapchats while she’s out and about and sees restaurants and other businesses who have significantly changed their hours (or just happen to not open for the day) because of not having workers.

I’ve already talked about my thoughts regarding the very complicated “nobody wants to work” argument, so I won’t rehash them here. But I will tell you what others are experiencing regarding about staff shortages.

I have friends/family being told there will be no time off requests through the end of the year because the business is so short staffed.

I have friends/family being told their “department” will need to cover for other “departments” because other “departments” are so short. Some of these departments that are covering for others are already short themselves.

I have friends/family who have said, “I chose to keep working, and now all I’m doing is covering everyone else who quit.” Regardless of their opinion about the mandates, vaccine, pay scale, etc., they’re now putting in way more hours to keep things covered—and they’re tired. And frustrated.

I have friends/family who are getting their finances in order, preparing to retire/quit because “life is too short to deal with this BS, ya know?” And they’re not wrong.

I have listened to a lot of friends/family. They’ve got interesting and different stories about what’s currently happening in their job, their life, their neck of the woods.

We’ve all got stories. We’re all dealing with stuff right now, regardless of where you work or live or what you believe about why things are the way they are. But while I was out collecting duck eggs and watching the hose fill up their pool I started thinking about how it’s sorta funny how a pebble tossed into a giant pond makes a lot of ripples, and how some of those ripples aren’t even noticed until the pebble is settled at the bottom of the pond, forgotten by the person who tossed it in.

If you’re paying attention, you realize that’s a metaphor.

I think we’re going to see the effects of a pebble that was thrown in the water (the response to covid 19, the election, etc.) how many flippin’ months ago for years to come. I think we can’t even envision right now what some of those ripples will be. We can’t even predict them. How many of us have said in the last two years, wow, didn’t see that coming. Or wow, didn’t think things would be like this… ?

So what do we do?

Pay attention, but…

This is your daily reminder that you can pay attention to what’s going on “out there” and not make it the center of your life.

You can be aware of what’s happening without letting it control you. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

There is no contest to be won. You gain nothing by bragging about how little or how much you know about what’s going on in the world.

Because here’s the thing: you can’t help people through what’s going on if you don’t know what’s going on.

The problem is we get sucked into the negativity and the name calling and the drama. And because we humans love to get involved in extremes, we listen to what’s going on, we get mad, we say screw this and we disappear. And then we don’t pay attention to anything.

That’s not the way through, friends.

It is a skill to figure out how to peruse current events—wherever you get your updates from—and not let it consume your life or devour your brain. And it’s a skill 95% of us where never taught. It’s a skill many of us will work on until we die.

Find the Path.

Bear with me while I offer you a visual about how I’ve worked through some stuff lately.

When I think about the world right now, I envision a dark forest—and there’s stuff in the forest, right? Dark stuff, issues, problems, anger, unknowns, confusion, things that unfair and make no sense. And what I keep thinking about is that there is a path out of it and we have to find that path and stay on that path and show other people there is a path and call them to that path.

And the thing is, when I talk about the path out or the path through, I don’t envision something fluffy or paved with gold.

When I say a path through or out, I don’t mean easy. I’m talking about a path that is covered with rocks, and you’re walking barefoot.

I’m talking about a path with holes. A path that might go straight up a mountain. A path that might need a bridge built across it for you to continue along it.

I’m not talking about a path that you hop on and you can see that brilliant light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m talking about a path that leads you through and out of the deep dark woods—and that’s all it is. That’s all it promises to be. 

Find that path.

Walk the path.

You have to walk the path, and then you have to show people the path is there. Not in with an air of superiority. Not in an, “Oh. em. gee. Why do you always get so sucked into the darkness?” kind of way. In the kind of way where you know people are struggling or confused or want to learn and you listen to them and then nod your head and say, “Ok, friend. Hey, come over here.”

Do that.

Be that person.

But know this. Not everyone will go with you when you show them the path.

It doesn’t matter.

There are people who would rather sit in their misery and their confusion and frustration and curl up in the fetal position because everything sucks and life is unfair and I didn’t ask for this and I don’t know what to do. But you know what? With one eye, they might be watching you.

In fact, I’d guarantee that they are watching you.

So keep doing what you’re doing. Walk the path. Plod forward. Step on the rocks. Build the bridge. Climb the wall.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other on that path that leads through and leads out.

** I am not necessarily naming the path because I think the path through and out means different things to different people. It might mean moving or starting a new job or a renewed commitment to your family or your health or your faith. It might mean a big change or it may mean just continuing to do what you’re already doing. Hopefully you know what the path is for you and this was helpful. I just know so many people right now are frustrated. They want inspiration and direction. They need to be pulled out of the darkness, or reminded they are a person on the path and people are watching them. I’ve needed those reminders lately myself.

— Amy Dingmann, 11-5-21

Special thanks to Tom Domres of Small Scale Life for the long chat that lead to this piece. I took up my shield, friend.

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