This is a post I meant to write over a year ago, but it’s such a big, sprawling topic, I never got around to it. I decided to stop procrastinating, but only after admitting to myself that it will take several posts before I can do this topic justice.
It’s about time. We don’t think enough about time.
(A bit ironic that a post about time took me such a long…time! LOL!)
What do I mean? I mean that things just take as long as they take. I believe this. And if you try to bend time to your will, you will either end up with a half-baked result, or you won’t end up with a result.
We all want things when we want them. Why go on a diet if you lose ten pounds after summer is over? Why bang out a perfect version of Fur Elise ten days after the recital? Why recite the Gettysburg Address from memory in June if the exam you were preparing for was in December?
Here is the reason. If you are spiritually inclined, you’ll get my meaning immediately. And if not…I still think you will see my logic. Basically, I believe that we aren’t in control of the end result anyway. You cannot guarantee anything except the work that you put into your project. Period. Only the gods (or the laws of the universe, whichever is your thing) control the end result.
Have you ever prepped an entire meal, only to discover that you were missing a major ingredient and couldn’t make your main course at all? Have you ever worried yourself sick about a confrontation with the boss, only to discover that she was in a great mood and didn’t mind that your report was late? And the reverse, too–have you ever prepped within an inch of your life for a speech, only to have it fly out of your head once you were behind the podium? (This has happened to me–more than once!)
We aren’t in control of the end result. Say it again–we aren’t in control of the end result.
Is this a reason to sloth about and do nothing? Of course not. I believe that we all need to prepare diligently for Lady Luck, just in case she shows up. My husband always finds parking right in front of whatever busy venue we are at, and he claims that it’s just because he actually focuses on what he wants and works diligently to get it. I call it luck, he calls it focus. Whatever. But can he guarantee a great parking space? No. All he can do is put the work in.
I have so many educational examples of this, I could probably blog for months on this subject. Two of my kids were a source of worry for years because they were so bad at math. I wondered whether my older child would be able to take the SAT, and before that, I even wondered if she would ever learn to tell time. Another kid couldn’t learn all four of the swimming strokes (my kids were all competitive swimmers) and kept getting disqualified. She was so bad, one of her coaches even tied her feet together with a rubber band so that she would keep them together during dolphin kicking sets. And my son flunked the phonics portion of one of his annual standardized tests when he was six or seven years old.
In the end, all of these issues got resolved. My kids all can do math, they can all swim all four strokes beautifully, and they can all read. It just took as long as it took.
You can only do the work and then hope that it’s enough. Sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you need help from professionals. And sometimes you are fighting a battle that is more complicated than “work” will resolve. In that case–would it have helped if you had pushed the issue? And suppose you are impatient. Suppose your child did not learn to read at age six like many of the other kids, and you decided to put him in reading camp all summer long. Maybe you feel he needs to be able to read smoothly before school starts again. Maybe the thought of a seven year old who can’t read is very upsetting to you.
But you still don’t control the result. And in the meantime, your kid has had no summer vacation. Since you don’t control the result anyway, why spoil his summer? I’m speaking as a mom who will soon be an empty nester–your child doesn’t have that many summers to spend at home with you. And frankly, barring a learning disability, your kid probably just needs more time. Because it takes as long as it takes.
I have found, over and over, that we just aren’t in charge of the end result of things. We are, however, in charge of the process. We can make responsible decisions to apply ourselves diligently, and also to rest and play. Beyond that, it’s really up to God, the gods, or forces of nature.
The work itself is noble, with or without “results.” My February theme of love=grit is what it’s all about. Show your love by loving your work. Love is not about setting conditions on your work…I will do the work IF I get what I want at the end. No, love is work. And it takes as long as it takes.