I always have the big plans, lists of things to do, priorities, and grand ideas. I imagine starting over, beginning a brand new day, being all I can be, and finally, at long last, fulfilling my potential. And then, I wake up.
And the day turns out to be just like every other day.
Anything really, really important–remembering to put out the trash, or paying bills–gets done. So do some other high-priority to medium priority ones. There is no major change in the direction of my life. None of my chronic problems get solved, in spite of every good intention. What happens?
People happen. Things break. Things take longer than expected. People take longer than expected. The unexpected happens. And I do need to take a break every now and again. So nothing ever changes. Or does it?
I want to see my life as some grand narrative, some triumph against odds–a classic story arc–when, in reality, it is more like a slice of life narrative. Well, okay, it’s more than a slice; it’s the entire pie. Nothing seems to change much. At the end of every day, I still have all the problems I began the day with. I rarely solve anything. Or so it seems.
But if I were to take a picture of my life five years ago, or ten, or twenty–then I see transformation. Some are physical, like home improvements we’ve undertaken. Some, I can’t take much credit for, like getting older. There are a few surprising changes, like that I’ve made about a dozen new friends in the last ten years. (Not bad for a card-carrying introvert.) I don’t fret as much as I used to. I’m more bold. I take things more as they are, not as I want them to be.
I’ve worked on these things. Day by day, there’s not much to show, but over time, my puny efforts do add up. Added to that effort is serendipity and the kindness of others.
When I fall into a false, grandiose narrative, I imagine that there is a right way to do things, that that way is the only way, and that it will solve all my problems. I further imagine there is a perfect solution, when in fact there is no action that does not carry with it unintended consequences.
So tomorrow, when I awaken with whatever obligations, and whatever to-do list I impose upon myself, I will not expect anything to be different. I will not expect to slay dragons. I will do the work before me, even the work I hate. Nothing will change, but somehow, I will be in the process of transforming everything.