Friday, January 15, 2010

Be the task

When a task is once begun, never stop til it is done.
Be the task great or small. do it well or not at all.

I was only eight years old when I took issue with this saying.  I'd heard it frequently from my mother.  She'd heard it just as often from hers.  The task was to clean my room.  I thought for a minute and replied, "Okay, I won't do it."  Of course I was in BIG trouble, although I wasn't sure why.  I felt the words offered an option and I had made a choice. The mistake was not repeated. By adulthood, the message had become firmly internalized.   

It was hard enough to take care of my home and family, attend college and hold down a full time job without bringing expectations of perfection to these tasks. Frustration forced me to reevaluate this motto. Yes, it had it's wisdom.  Doing something well brought a lot of satisfaction.   It had some flaws too. Who can do everything well?  What if there isn't enough time to complete a task? Tell the baby that it can't be fed until you've finished cleaning the kitchen? Tell the boss that you can't deal with an emergency until you've completed your two month project?

I listened to my inner eight year old and began to bring some balance to my life. Then I modified the saying:

Be the task great or small
Something is better than nothing at all.

This was a turning point in my life. The new motto permitted me to wash the dishes without cleaning the kitchen. It let me substitute some frozen dinners for home-cooked meals. It let me slouch on the sofa and read a novel instead of a text book. Best of all, it gave me permission to make errors. Who learns to play the piano perfectly after one lesson? Even natural athletes must practice to gain skill. I could dabble in a new craft, learn a new language or tackle a new home improvement project. Even when the results were less than stellar, I was free to enjoy the process.

Tomorrow I'll share a new attempt. Writing a novel. The first installment is ready and I'll share it with you. I'm really enjoying the process. Hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Grandma

3 comments:

  1. Hi, I found your blog from your comment on Daddy Forever. I hope you don't mind. I agree with you. I'm in the same boat that you were in, although I graduated college before starting a family, I still have to care for the kids all day, work all night and repeat. Oddly enough, I went to college for history with the hopes of becoming a writer. It most likely won't happen. I feel as if I'm a horrible writer. I look forward to reading more posts from you, if you don't mind a stranger following your blog.

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  2. I don't mind at all. Makes me happy to know that folks like to read what I write. Hope to see you lots more.

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  3. Beautiful......something are never that cut and dry.......finding a midpoint was an epiphany!

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