Posted in Musings

Depression 1.12 – One Stroke at a Time

It is not that I have nothing to do or that I don’t have the time to do it.

It is that I don’t have the energy to do whatever it is I can or need to do.

My mind continues to swirl with a myriad of creative ideas. I know what I could be doing. I struggle to rise up from the depths.

Lethargy holds me down. I can only move against the weight of these two, which seems to increase the burden. I swim through a frozen sea, one clutching hand in front of the other.

I am learning to let go of the big picture, to take things one stroke at a time.

I place a piece of wood inlay there.

I write a word, sentence, paragraph, page here.

Suddenly, the craft is complete, the story written.

And for the briefest of moments, my dark-winged companions are lost in the pulsing waves behind me.

Posted in Longreads & Essays

The Curse of the Big Picture

I am a big picture person.

Some people see the trees. Some people like me see the forest. And it is real easy to get hopelessly lost in the woods.

Seeing the big picture, getting a vision for something larger, can be a good thing. But I am finding it to be a curse.

Take my house for instance. We’re in the middle of what seems like an eternal renovation. We bought a fixer-upper. That was what we could afford. We did a little bit of stuff and then we moved in. We adopted children, dogs and a bunny. Jobs. Family. Church. School. Community. Our house, and lives, are full.

We get a little bit done here and a little bit done there but overall the entire project is not finished. That can be overwhelming. I try to be content but it just seems like I am constantly trying to finish up some project in the house. I am constantly reorganizing and shifting things from one place to the other as I work on this room or that room. Things are getting done I guess but it doesn’t seem like the house is.

The same is true with what is happening in the world.

When I look at the big picture it doesn’t seem like we have evolved very much as a human species. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot has changed. We continue to kill each other. We seem to have the same problems in the same parts of the world. A lot of good people are expending a lot of energy to make things better so why are things worse? It’s not like we are not smart enough to figure things out. Somehow there is a lack of will, a subtle difference of opinion, a miniscule roadblock, that keeps us from coming up with a workable, lasting solution. We recognize the problems but we don’t seem to be able to figure out how to solve them.

So then the big picture part of me asks, what good is it to even participate in trying to make the world a better place? The trees are lost in the midst of the forest as it were. What good does all the marching, shouting, writing, advocating, working, praying for the good of others do if the world around us is not becoming more like the kingdom of God? Or at least if not getting better, then not getting worse?

It is the curse of the big picture.

Because if I do one thing that helps one person then what I did matters to that one person. The action may or may not have a ripple effect. It may not change the world. But it changes the world of that one person alive for this moment in time.

And what about me? What occurs within me when I live this way, when I work for the common good, when I resist the constant tendency towards selfish narcissism, even if I see no tangible results in anyone around me?

So as the old gospel song goes: “I am working on a building for my Lord, for my Lord.”

The building is in really, really bad shape.

But it has a lot of rooms and in those rooms are a lot of people.

And among those people might be the one person who needs you or me.

A lot of really excellent carpenters, more talented than you and I, have been working on this Holy Ghost building for a long, long time.

They walked this earth before us and did the best they could. They never saw the earth become what God wishes it to be. Why did they keep going? Why did they keep doing what they did? Why did they give their lives for something that they could never see? What right do I have to give up and do no less?

A lot of questions, many of which I do not have the answers to.

All I can do is keep working on the building.

For my Lord.

For my Lord