Pancakes and Purpose
This morning I had to make pancakes for the family – yes, had to, because I forgot to buy bread yesterday. The shops are a bit far away, so no, I wasn’t going to go out. And I didn’t feel like ‘glamming’ up just yet. It’s a Saturday morning, a lazy Saturday morning, you know?
So while at it, I thought about lunch. And looked at the dishes in the sink from last evening. I had more interesting things to do (read partying, hehe), so I wasn’t going to deal with dishes. So as I made the pancakes, I thought about fixing lunch, so that I’d be done all at once, and leave the kitchen once and for all.
I cooked…and in almost no time, both breakfast and lunch were ready. So I walked around the house tidying up and just checking on everything. And then I went back to the kitchen and found the dishes. Something told me that I should wash them and just be done, but I was eager to get to my mental work, so I thought I could push that until a bit later.
The strong impression persisted, so I went to the kitchen, ready to wash. Absentmindedly, I began to walk around the house, noticing all the good work I’d already done, smiling as I checked the lists in my head. I even stopped to watch an ophthalmologist on CNN, and began getting carried away in what she was saying. I didn’t really feel like washing those dishes, and I knew that if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to do it until much later.
And right there, I discovered one hindrance to progress – looking back at past successes for so long that we feel so good about them, forgetting that there are other things that need our attention.
I headed back to the kitchen and determinedly began washing those dishes. I thought about how fast, hard and efficiently I had worked to make all those meals in that period of time. The pressure of the magnitude of work had kept me going, given me momentum. I was eager to finish, and I was fully occupied – literally, my hands were really full. My brain was fully engaged in that work, and so was the whole of me.
Until I relaxed a little and felt that I had more time and energy in my hands, and so I could use that any time I desired to wash the dishes… and right there, it hit me. Perhaps that’s why problems and responsibilities are good. They keep us focused on the right things, using our energy, time and resources pursuing worthy causes.
When the pressure eases off a little, then we begin to wander and go astray, not really focusing our energies on any one particular thing, and therefore not achieving any singular goal of great significance. Maybe that’s why a lot of time is wasted on the internet. Or on TV. Or in idle chatting and lazing around.
Maybe that’s why inventors made such great discoveries because they were trying to solve pertinent, pressing problems in their environment. And maybe, just maybe, a big problem might be our big dream, because it will, almost naturally, bring out the best in us as we seek to solve it. We will be on our best behavior trying to solve that problem, contacting people to help us, managing our time, energy and resources with the sharpest focus possible so as to alleviate that problem…using all our skills towards the solving of that problem… and before we know it, we have crossed barriers that many thought were uncross-able, done the unthinkable, surpassed the average masses that might merely have a passing interest in that problem… and then, wallah, we’d find ourselves on top of the game!
Maybe that’s why they say, that true success is who you become in the process of achieving your goal. That success is a journey. Because it’s on the journey that we get to really live, to express ourselves, to throw our whole weight and life behind a worthy cause, and experience the fulfillment of step by step achievements. The end result might be good, but it’s also final, in a way, and we soon must seek another worthy cause to pursue, or idleness and vanity will get the better of us.
So right there, in my kitchen, I thanked God for my problems, thought about the verse that says “Count it all joy…” and even asked God for one or a few significant problems, that I might pursue a life of significant purpose, meaningfully and wholeheartedly spending my time, life, energy and resources.