Some weeks, I have to consciously shift my approach for getting through the day. I find myself on defense—putting out fires and flailing against the onslaught of problems and deadlines and unexpected complications—but I have to change my tactics to try and get on offense, to get some level of control over what’s going on in my life. It’s still a battle, but if I can reach a point where I am fighting proactively, just slightly ahead of the curve of the minor crises to come, I am left exhausted but not defeated.
Some problems are inevitable and come unexpectedly: colds, bug infestations, subway delays. Even with all the planning and effort in the world, I can’t always be on offense; sometimes I can only react to whatever new disaster each day brings. I’m fighting a battle against gnats in my apartment right now, and some days the gnats are the clear victors. I try and gain a little control, to be on offense instead of defense, but I will never, ever be completely in control, and I’d be wasting my energy (and putting my focus in entirely the wrong direction) if I didn’t accept my own limitations.
It’s been a long week.
(I know it’s only Thursday. But tomorrow’s a summer Friday, and I think I’ve earned this one.)
So as not to sound terribly whiny (too late for that, I think), I will add that there have been a lot of really wonderful things that have happened this week, too. Wonderful things and difficult things always come interwoven together, and it’s a gift to be able to pull out the wonderful threads and look at them clearly, without letting them be tinged by the bitterness alongside them. It’s too easy to take for granted the things that went smoothly and only see the things that went wrong.
Much as I wish there were, there aren’t any real shortcuts in life. I often think of a quote from Elizabeth Esther’s book, where she said that when she asked God to move a mountain, He handed her a shovel. I want the answers to my problems to be immediate and easy, but they come oh-so-slowly, gradually coming to fruition through the endless daily grind—through choosing what I ought to do instead of what I’d rather do, day after day, and picking the shovel back up every time I drop it. For all those of you shoveling: forza e coraggio. I’m right there with you.