It’s The Little Things
How do we prepare for those things that impale us on the sharp horns of dilemma? The challenges that test our endurance and spiritual mettle? When someone we love is dying. Do we fly across continents to hold their hand? Do we wait and go to their funeral? Do we leave our marriage and hope to find lasting love in the arms of another? Do we resign from our well-paid job and back pack across Asia?
We wouldn’t embark on a trip through the Namib Desert without water. We wouldn’t apply to appear on Survivor without knowing how to light a fire, or volunteer to nurse in Haiti unless we’d honed our nursing skills. And yet blithely we wing our way through relationships, marriages, careers, parenthood and the process of ageing and dying, so often with very little competency or application. “Experts” proliferate offering scratching’s of undigested knowledge unseasoned by experience or wisdom – they thrive in a world that venerates the quick fix, the easy answer. Suddenly the wolf is at our door and how he huffs and puffs and blows our straw house down.
“Sweat the small stuff” says astronaut Chris Hadfield who claims to be annoyingly optimistic and buoyant by nature, but writes eloquently about the power of negative thinking in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. His maxim and one that has saved his life and the lives of crew members, is to anticipate a problem before it becomes a calamity. “Spend time visualising defeat and figuring out how to prevent it.” His take-action, attend to the details (meticulously over and over again) approach to life is one that pioneers, athletes and those of a competitive nature use to achieve the results they desire. Counterintuitive behaviour, deliberate team work, helping others in competitive situations, learning from mistakes and importantly, seeing criticism (even of the most personal kind) as helpful, are all tactics he uses to perfect performance and cope with the vicissitudes of life.
Preparation for departures and new journeys requires focus. Contingency plans can reign in wild panic. The combination of focused thought, visualisation and action can help ease our passage through the stormy waters of change, or bring a sense of personal triumph. When we find ourselves in times of trouble we know how to reach down to that still calm place within. To override the primitive response of our old brain. Like practicing a fire drill, or a resuscitation procedure that stays “in the muscle” of our memory, it helps to have a plan of action, a sequence of events that grounds us in the moment. It helps to find the epicentre of calm amidst calamity.
Mercury travels Retrograde from February6th till the 28th, a cosmic in-breath and a timely reminder to focus on the little things and “be prepared”. Mercury rules all forms of transport; agreements and all means of communication, especially gossip. It’s domain is business matters, postage, vehicles, mobile phones, cars and computers. So cross the Ts and dot the Is. Back up, re-charge and repair. Attend now to the details we so often brush aside like crumbs as we rush on to the next thing. Practice that Cinderella virtue – patience.
Professor Randy Pausch, in his Last Lecture, delivered months before he died of cancer, says with lightness and great humour, “Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.”
Everything in our magnificent Universe is in constant motion. “Not to decide is to decide. Try not to make choices by default,” says Neale Donald Walsh.
Calm methodical preparation increases our discrimination and tones competency and discernment. “All things are ready, if our mind be so,” the Bard said. So be calm. Make preparations. Envision your journey and be grateful for all the little things that dust our lives with joy.
It’s The Little Things – The Gothard Sisters
Chris Hadfield An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth