Pitter Patter

Here we are. It’s the first day of Canada’s 156th year. Let’s celebrate! Some like to dance; some like to eat. You there in the back: You might like to do both. It’s all good.

But maybe you don’t feel like celebrating. As you look around, maybe you feel more like this . . .

I mean, look at voting participation rates. At incivility in public discourse. At home unaffordability. At political polarization. At corruption. At violence in the streets. At drug poisonings.

Don’t despair: Help is at hand! From Zen, no less.

Change one thing.

Wait, what? How can I change even one of these things?

Start with a single change. It should be small; not a goal, but a tiny first step. It could be to run for ten minutes; to spend two minutes drawing; to prepare a healthy work lunch for one day a week. It could be to stay in hard conversations for a moment after you want to leave, and spend that moment trying to listen.

Oh. They’re talking about personal change and happiness, not about change I might like to see in Canada and in the world. That would take longer. And more people.

But in an East-meets-Middle-East moment, it reminds me of one of the famous sayings from the Mishnah, which my mother liked to quote sort-of accurately.

You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to desist from it.

OK, so if we’re in it not to win it but to move it along — whatever *it* is — what should we do specifically?

Start very small.
Do only one change at a time.
Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
Be grateful for every step you take.

Whatever this next year holds for me, for you, for Canada, and for the world is not yet written.

Change one thing.


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4 Responses to Pitter Patter

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Be the change you want to see. A good motto.

  2. barbara carlson says:

    Reminds me of the advice for getting down to work… Just do it for 10 minutes, and the rhythm will take over. It’s the getting started…

    It also reminds me of a dinner party with 4 couples. We got to talking about chores, and one of the men (former military) said, “I don’t know what the problem is — if I see that something needs doing, I just do it.”

    There was a palpable & chilly tightening from the other 3 men. A mixture of damn him! and guilt.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, “just do it” covers a lot of situations. And saves a lot of unhappiness, methinks.

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