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.
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
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
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 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