If you find yourself facing an overwhelmingly difficult or complex situation and you can’t see your way forward, here is a suggestion:
This particular piece of wisdom has been gleaned from Men in Black 3 and is given by Agent K to Agent J at the point where imminent global disaster (aka the end of the world) seems inevitable and neither character knows what to do about it, so ‘Let’s go and eat pie’.
Sure enough, after a sufficiently long pie eating pause the solution to the crisis emerges.
So what does ‘pie-eating’ mean? (apart from the obvious)
Well, it means stopping and doing something completely different and totally absorbing to take your mind off the pressing crisis and waiting for a way forward to emerge.
It might be riding a bike, knitting a shawl, going for a long walk, reading a book, having a long non-agenda driven conversation with someone you love. (Or, it could actually be eating pie, an activity not without it’s benefits).
At the moment I feel like I am facing a mountain of a situation. Mine is called ‘How to finish your final year of training and write your dissertation in a period of interregnum’. For non-Anglicans that means my boss is leaving. Your mountain will undoubtedly come with a different label but whatever you are faced with perhaps you will identify with the following three possibilities.
Possibility 1) I will crack up
Possibility 2) I will screw up
Possibility 3) I will give up
Possibility #1 is clearly the scariest and avoiding this will come down to good boundary management ie looking after myself by ‘eating pie’ regularly, accepting the things I cannot change, lowering my expectations and taking the appropriate medication (teeth again, boring, boring).
Possibility #2 is not actually a possibility at all: it’s a given. I WILL screw up. Probably 3 or 4 times a week… but hey, so does everyone else so ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’.
(This is not complacency on my part or excuse making, just a refusal to accept that perfect is possible, achievable or even desirable).
Which leaves Possibility #3 ‘I will give up’. The jury is still out on this one. I don’t know. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. What I have learnt (from long distance bike rides) is that it’s never good to count the miles between you and your destination. It’s far better to count the miles under your wheels and just focus on one day at a time.
In other words just do the task that’s in front of you, to the best of your ability. Allow yourself to be pleased if, at the end of the day, you have done one thing well, even if there were ten possible things you could have done.
And talking of possibilities, MIB3 is worth watching for one little character alone: the Griffin who sees all infinite possibilities in every finite moment. He is a fun, if rather neurotic, character.
I SO want a Griffin for a friend!
He would remind me that sometimes the future turns on the smallest of actions and also that it is good sometimes to stand back and take the long-term view.
Anyway that’s enough from me for now. I’m off to eat pie… today’s variety is ‘humble’ (see possibility #2 ‘screw ups’).
P.S. There is of course a 4th possibility: that I might actually ‘grow up’ through this process. This suggestion was made by the quiet inner voice I have come to recognise as the Spirit of God, right after I had finished outlining to God in prayer the original 3 possibilities. Had it been anyone else who’d made this suggestion, I’d have poked them in the eye. In fact, I wasn’t that impressed to hear it from God either. But there you go, he’s probably right, he usually is.
The reality is that 2013 will most likely be a mixture of all these possibilities (hopefully not too much of #1 or #3) but maybe, by the grace and presence of God, possibility #4 will prevail.