I stormed into work one morning this week with a piece of my windshield wiper in my hand.
My years of life experience and a university education had failed me. I could not re-attach the wiper to the wiper arm on my car.
Can anyone do this? I walked through the building, dripping water, asking one, then another, can you help me?
I tried not to yield to the thought that we are a predominantly female staff here at The Review. I refused to think of myself as living in a safe cocoon, where big, strong garage-men take care of this kind of thing so I can live in ignorant bliss.
How could I not know how to do this? I watched a how-to video and still could not make it work. In retrospect, I think my impatience used up too much brain space and I was unable to concentrate.
I went to the hardware store. Maybe the thing was broken.
At Home Hardware, a customer waiting for paint took the wiper from my hand, walked outside to my parked car and snapped the wiper into place. Now, I know how to do it.
This past weekend, I took a short workshop on how to get things done. Although I consider myself pretty focused about getting most things done, there are some larger things I would like to do and I can’t, somehow, get down to business. I do not procrastinate, ever. It is just that there are times when I cannot even get started.
Maybe I can learn something, I thought.
What I did learn was that for me, it is the big projects that are untouchable. My mind turns to the hundreds of hours that something will take to complete. And that stops me in my tracks.
I never used to think like that. So I guess I could say that I have learned something along the way: to consider the longer term and what a major accomplishment will cost in terms of time and commitment, instead of just imagining end results: applause and success.
While we do need to think about what lies ahead, we get our motors running, so to speak, when we think about the light at the end of the tunnel. We need to think about the end result, the event realized, the room renovated, the meeting as productive and the garden harvest or we would never move forward into what is, really, the unknown.
I thought about this as I was coming home Saturday on Highway 34. At the point where I can usually see Vankleek Hill ahead, there was nothing: just a white fog. I drove on, certain that the quiet, late-Saturday afternoon Vankleek Hill I know would be there, and its features became clearer as I got closer.
It made me think that perhaps the big things we want to accomplish in life are just like that. As if they were hidden by an impenetrable fog, our big goals can lie ahead of us, perhaps unclear, for years. If we don’t take a leap of faith and move toward them, our big dreams stay hidden in the distance. We may never get close enough to see them become reality. It is safer, perhaps, to leave them in the fog. Thinking about them, and doing nothing, keeps us from failing.
At the weekend workshop, I learned that each of us has our own little fog surrounding important things we seem unable to accomplish.
I see things a little more clearly now and not just because I got my wiper fixed. But I am not perfect.
I still have things to learn, like how to change a windshield wiper. What is behind my inertia when it comes to certain big projects?
My advice to myself is to ask for help, make a list of what needs to be done and to keep my sense of humour on the top of any to-do list.
And to keep my foot on the gas: to do whatever I can to keep on moving forward, even if I can’t quite see everything that lies ahead.