Go ahead, do The Thing

Nervous Wreck Do the thing you cannot do.  Easy for me to say, huh, since I have been trying to write my Daddy’s memoirs for two years now. I start and stop, get distracted, and sputter.

Ditto for the cookbook I’m writing with Margaret Ann.  We have written the prologue and about 200 essays taken from my newspaper columns. They will be enhanced by her recipes which relate to the topic.  More pressing things get in the way…

I was thumbing through a book the other day and received an important message I can’t get out of my head.

reluctant-skydiver The author, (wish I could remember who it was), was discussing how we undermine ourselves by putting off those things which could make monumental differences in our lives. If you’re like me, I bet there are a few things you know you need to do, that you are not doing and likely will NEVER do.

That one thing could make a immeasurable difference in your life. I’m going to make a bet with you that there is at least one thing you are not doing that if you did it, your most wonderfully impossible goals would come 20 miles closer today.

It might be a phone call you’ve been avoiding making, a bad habit you want to give up, or a conversation you’ve been reluctant to have. It might be sitting down to type the first words of your novel or a letter of resignation to your boss. It might even be as simple as going for a walk, doing a push-up, or any of the myriad of things you already know you should do to create the life you want.

Consider what would happen if you did it – if you “did the thing” – you might find exquisite satisfaction. My latest desire is to learn to play the violin.  I had the opportunity to hear a marvelous violinist at Saturday evening’s Mendelssohn tribute at the MSU Symphony’s winter concert.

At the end, I had the inappropriate urge to jump and shout, “Gee Doggies, that gal can sure fiddle.”  Likely, they would have carried me out in a straight jacket. In that case, it was best not to do The Thing.

But you can’t do your thing either, can you?  You can’t because you don’t know how. You can’t because it’s too hard. You can’t because, well, you’re just not the kind of person who does things like that.

In his essay On Compensation, Ralph Waldo Emerson concludes with the now famous line:

“The law of nature is do the thing and you shall have the power; but they who do not the thing, have not the power.”

Now this is exactly the opposite of how most of us go about things. We try to build up the power before doing the thing. We have this idea that we have to able to do something before we can do it. And in nature it is the exact opposite. Do the thing, and you will have the power. When you do it, you will develop the ability to do it.

Hmm. I’m going out to rent a violin. I KNOW how to play it according to this line of thinking.

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