Pitter Patter

I am setting out of my hole of indecision, baby steps, pitter-pattering through my road less traveled.  And somehow, call me a witch but I seem to conjure all sorts of fellows and circumstances handing me exactly what I need. I had a concept cooking eons ago, of what I aspired to do with my law practice.  It has been on the back burner for years and I was afraid I had burnt it to a crisp.  Restlessness, a lot of prodding from within, and a benevolent squad urged me to put it to paper and begin.  Begin where?  I did not know.  I just decided to begin.  And Providence, she emerged as quick as lightning.  I gravitated towards an email that led me to the exact work I was seeking.  Days later and five minutes into a conversation with a girl I barely knew, she gaped at me and exclaimed, “Did you see what I was writing, exactly when you walked in?”  I stood there, stupefied, as it was the exact phrase I had just revealed, the very initiative I wanted to begin. Goosebumps, and a gift from the divine is handed to you on a platter.

I have been discouraged by the thought of little:  my little steps; my little deed; and my little handiwork on the big world. I behold all these monumental ideas changing the world, people larger than life, making their giant imprints on history. And my trifling endeavor is seemingly, an itty-bitty drop of water falling to obscurity on the lake.  And yet, my itty-bitty drop can create ripples, and the lake is never the same again.  And some fish somewhere would eat the seaweed carried by my droplet of good. Another day of heavenly manna for the fish, all because someone somewhere thought it wise to send a trickle. Butterflies too. I was awestruck poring over “The Butterfly Effect.”  One insignificant flap of a tiny (and faraway) butterfly’s wing creates changes in the air that could ultimately change the course of weather forever. Seriously. Like the flutter of that butterfly outside our garden in March, totally negligible, could have caused the dampening (mood included) storm we had at the beach last weekend.

When I was lamenting my lack of will to make change, a friend said: “You can’t save the world in one day. But, you can do it, a little at a time.”  And so, a little at a time I will. Certainly, each one has something he can do.  A calling that is uniquely his, like fingerprints and snowflakes.  Commit to do something, and the time is always now.  Not tomorrow, not after I have saved enough for a rainy day (make hay while the sun still shines), not after the fixing-me-up phase is over, and not when each moment lost is a child spending another day in jail. We have a pitiful tendency of saying “I wish I was like you, your life has more meaning.”  We say it to a doctor who leaves home for destitute places and people needy of healing. She lugs her magical kit from Sudan to Kenya while feasting on tummy-breakers and putrid water.  But you’re not a doctor (or maybe you are).  You are: a lawyer; a farmer; a mother; you paint imaginary worlds; you build thriving businesses from nothing; you fashion clothes donned by belles of the ball; you’re a magician in the kitchen; numbers bend to your will; you even own a sugar mill; people love you and will follow where you go. And there is so much healing you can do yourself lugging your own magical kit. What is your genius?  What superpower or even uncanny mutation, have you been blessed with? I sometimes think that I do not merit certain graces.  But maybe I do.  There is work to fulfill, transforming and healing to be made. We shouldn’t be wishing we were someone else doing something for the world. We can be the change we want to see in the world (Thank you Gandhi.)

There’s no denying this wanting to go about doing something decent, creating ripples or flapping wings. It gnaws at you like a sore tooth. It begins with a quiver, some throbbing, and insignificant, dismissible pain. Yet do not dismiss it.  “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it Now.” (William Hutchinson Murray.)   Because postponing dental visits will bring you to that one agonizing day when the decay has reached your innermost core, and all you can do is have a root canal.  Kill that which makes you feel. Feel neither heat nor cold.  No more gnawing, but no feeling too. And what sort of tooth is a dead tooth? And, there is nothing more tormenting than a toothache.  A tiny throbbing tooth that feels it’s aching way into your head, wrestles with your heart, and mangles your limbs. So, this business of doing good, answering a calling, or meriting your graces, do it now.  Do not leave it to rot and then plague you years from now.  Because what if you can no longer put it to rights, and all you can patch it with is regret?

I am starting to grasp how faith can move mountains. Still, until you get to budge the first mountain, it is a grueling climb alongside ice cream parlors that tempt you to stop and cool down. It is seemingly skewed. It takes a chunk of guts to commit to something, and when you do, you’re only given a gust of celestial wind to propel you forward. Sure, Providence moves with you.  She outfits you with the best climbing gear and will even carry your backpack.  But then the demanding climb is all yours.  Bumps and bruises, your back breaking, aching legs, a blinding sun, sweat, and every tempting pit stop with the promise of gooey chocolate on ice cream and fudgy brownies. And so you stop. Lose momentum.  Lose your footing.  Wander from your lifepath. And yet, what will make you persevere? If all there is to see is more clouds and another mountain? Hopefully, a taste of heaven.  None of the nagging and tugging, pure serenity. Everything falling into their own right places. The glorious sight of things transformed.  One person healed, again, and then another.  Another person making it happen, again, and then another.  And faith on the promise of coming home.

Set about being good. As if the sun should stop when he had kindled his fires up to the splendor of a moon or a start of the sixth magnitude, and go about like a Robin Goodfellow, peeping in at every cottage window, inspiring lunatics, and tainting meats, and making darkness visible, instead of steadily increasing his genial heat and beneficence till he is of such brightness that no mortal can look him in the face, and then, and in the meanwhile too, going about the world in his own orbit, doing it good, or rather, as a truer philosophy has discovered, the world going about him doing good. -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Only a few people really venture out of their holes of indecision, trying their hand at moving mountains.  And we can be the favored few.  Nothing big, just begin with tiny steps, pitter-pattering through a road less traveled.  I’ll see you on the road.

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