You know that there's so much about at the moment about stopping and being 'in the moment' and slowing down to 'just be' and to notice and savour life's fleeting moments and blessings? Well, I fully support the premise but sometimes I don't want to dawdle and linger, I feel a pressing need to get on.
I've read these books and articles and blogs and tweets and I've thought to myself, yes. This is it. I've thought this so much that I've actually written some stuff to the same effect myself, but the other day it dawned on me that much as I love the idea of slowing down and getting off the hamster wheel to 'stop' and 'be' and 'be in the moment', I like the idea of 'getting there' more.
I like getting things done. I want to cut to the chase. I like it when I can cross something off my To Do list because it's Done. I have, if I'm honest, resorted to adding Done things to my To Do lists so that I get a sense of achievement when I can see the Dones next to the remaining To Dos. Actually, I've had to stop making To Do lists because the sheer volume of things that needed doing became too much for me. This came about because my To Do lists had to be complete, not works in progress and so every task had to be included. The effect of this was to discourage me so much that I scrapped the idea.
I used to draw, when I was younger. I got reasonably good at it, though never good enough to take it any further than sketching while watching the telly in an evening. The thing was, I didn't enjoy it very much. I liked the idea of it, and I liked the finished picture, and I liked giving the pictures to people, but the process of drawing it? Not so much. After the first few strokes of my pencil I became so worried about getting it wrong and ruining the composition that it was no fun.
It's like this with practically everything I do. I like reading, but when I read I want to finish the book; I want to know how the story unfolds. I stay up much later than is good for me because I can't leave it half-finished. I'm frustrated when life keeps me away from my books. I do cross-stitch pictures and I find that when I start one I am keen to finish. I like the finished thing, not so much the doing. It needs to be perfect, so the work is painstaking, like the artwork; it has to be right, but it has to be finished.
I start something and I'm impatient for the finish. If I diet, I want to be thin tomorrow. If I go on holiday, I want to get there. If I watch a TV programme, I want the next episode. If I hear a joke, I want the punchline.
I want to know what happens in the end.
So when I hear that you're not so fussed about the destination, but you're interested in the journey, I sort of slump. No, I'm not very good at this. I want to get there.
I know that you have a Plan for me and for my life. I know that you've given me dreams and gifts to use for your glory. I know that your timing is perfect.
I do. I know that.
But I want to get there. I want to be the person you want me to be without having to labour over the stages and life events and challenges and experiences that might make me that person. I want to get to the point where my dreams and your promises for my life are coming to fruition, not have someone suggest that I should savour the process of getting there.
Are we nearly there yet?
Agh. You made me like this, remember. I'm a completer/finisher. I like the 'i' dotted and the 't' crossed and the box ticked. I like it all sewn up neat and tidy. And if the job is too big, too long, I break it down into sections that don't intimidate me as much and so that I can see progress.
You see, all my life I've made progress. I've been relatively (not dramatically) good at exams; I've always passed things that needed passing. I've signed up for other qualifications to advance my career (when I had one) or to improve my driving, or to learn something new. It's always been visible, quantifiable, measurable. A task needs doing, I do it, it's done.
I need to see progress otherwise I get discouraged. I can understand the necessity for the gradual but it's when I can't discern any difference between yesterday and today, last month and this, or between the day the dream was born and two years of trying later that leaves me all at sea. That's when it gets a bit too much. I wonder if I'm actually getting anywhere. I wonder if it's worth it at all; whether I misread the signs early on and this treading water means anything.
I start to doubt that I'm on the right track. I start to feel tired and distracted and unmotivated.
Are we nearly there yet?
I know that these are the times when character is formed; when perseverance teaches me determination and persistence. I know that nothing worth having is handed to us on a plate and I know that you know best.
I'm just saying, I'm not very good at it.
Help me change, Father, because this is against my nature, and I'm wondering if this is why I'm giving myself such a hard time at the moment. For weeks now I've been feeling a vague and nebulous sort of discouragement and I think it's because I don't feel that I'm getting anywhere.
Am I? Would you let me into the secret, just a little bit? A little glimpse of your plan? A sign that I'm going in the right direction?
There just seems such a long way to go.
Are we nearly there yet?
Lord, here's all this. I don't know what the answer is - I suspect there isn't one. Actually, no I don't. I suspect that I know it all along and the answer is that you're not so much bothered by the destination as the journey, and I need to stop stamping and muttering on the platform and climb aboard. I need to get a seat by the window and stretch out my legs and look out at the scenery. I need to take off my watch and stop checking the time. Stop looking for affirmation or signs of progress and turn my gaze on you.