just do the next thing (itty bitty thoughts)

just do the next thing (itty bitty thoughts)

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When we were on vacation at the cabin recently,

there was no planning out the days.

I’m not one of those

here is the itinerary for our trip

kind of people.

No, the next thing on our “what should we do” list

was just the next thing that needed to be done.

There was no self-important pondering of

how can I change the world.

There were just logs to be dragged

cut to length

and split with a maul.

 

Maybe life isn't about how much you can shove in. Maybe life is about being able to do the next thing, whatever that ends up to be.

 

There was no time to consider motives or conspiracies

There was just the consideration of

how to ration what water was left until we went home.

 

What always surprises me on vacation at the cabin

is how easily I can step away from all the 

Other Stuff of Life

and how often I consider

how easy it would be to 

just not go back home.

 

So why does everything seem so 

all-consuming and important 

when I do go back home?

 

I understand that vacation is different

(even though most Normal People think

splitting logs and rationing water

isn’t really a vacation)

but does heading back home to pay the bills

require the drama that comes with it?

 

Does the place where

hot water comes from the faucet

and coffee is done in five minutes

require the constant pull in 47 directions?

 

Does leaving the place where I sleep 

11 hours a night

require the cloud of panic that

only allows me to sleep five?

 

Maybe the beautiful thing about vacation

is that you only have to think about 

the next thing.

 

I’m trying to reset my life to be about the next thing.

(Which is hard because I always like to be

two steps ahead)

Is there a way to do both?

Can I live a life where I’m moderately prepared

but also a life where I thumb through an old magazine

and find a recipe for pickled eggs and decide to

just,

you know,

make them?

 

Maybe life isn't about how much you can shove in. Maybe life is about being able to do the next thing, whatever that ends up to be.

 

Can I live a life where I know what needs to be done tomorrow

but I’m also okay with that project that came up just now?

 

Is it possible to live a life where the to-do list

doesn’t get jumbled into a ball of stress

and instead

is unraveled piece by piece into

canning spaghetti sauce

cleaning out the hay shed

helping a kid with his philosophy paper.

 

Is it possible to live a life where

you know what’s going on

and you know how much you can shove in

but also have time to feed 

another stray kitten you found

at the end of the driveway?

 

Maybe life isn't about how much you can shove in. Maybe life is about being able to do the next thing, whatever that ends up to be.

 

Maybe life is less about how much you can shove in

and more about how many stray kittens you can feed.

 

Maybe life is less about knowing what “needs” to get done

and more about tackling the things that “come up”.

 

Maybe things don’t actually “come up”.

 

Maybe all the hard and fast plans and lists we make

are some sort of illusion

that cause the Universe and the Makers

to roll their eyes at us. 

Without “plans” and without “how it’s supposed to be”

would our eyes be more open to

what’s actually happening in front of our face?

 

I’m not sure.

 

All I know is that there is

some sort of peace

in being open to

just doing the next thing.

   — Amy Dingmann, 9-29-20

 

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Maybe life isn't about how much you can shove in. Maybe life is about being able to do the next thing, whatever that ends up to be.



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