It finally happened. We dunked the Sea Shanti into the drink, and she didn’t leak.
We didn’t take the time we should’ve to savor that fact yesterday. Instead, we ran errands, which ended in aggravation, irritation, and yet more exhaustion. We had to work twice as hard when we finally settled down to get back the joy that we should’ve been feeling all day.
Wins have the shelf-life of an old banana. If you don’t enjoy them when they’re ripe, they start to take on a blemished, mushy look. And there’s no throwing a win in the freezer to use in bread later.
This is why I say every chance I get: take time to appreciate what you’re doing and how far you’ve come. It’s too easy to get into a holding pattern where you keep going and going and going until you collapse, never acknowledging that you’ve made some progress. Some is better than none, and it should be celebrated, at least momentarily.
Tenacity and endurance are both useful qualities to cultivate when you’re trying to accomplish something that feels impossible, but you’ve got to balance it out with time left free and clear to congratulate yourself on small victories and take pleasure in them. Otherwise, why bother?
The current state of the world has activated a lot of people: to protest, to volunteer, to make art, to change their lives. I believe that ultimately what comes out of these darker times will be something enlightening.
But only if we step back and appreciate each small accomplishment. Otherwise, they’ll never have any impact on us. We’ll forget that we’re making progress at all and only ever see what’s still left to be done. (Hint: there will always be things left to do.) That’s a recipe for hopelessness.
In Les Stone Cold Killers, Madam Simone tells Perilous and Sparks, “Why bother saving the world if you’re not going to enjoy it?” I stand by the idea. If you’re a rebel, a revolutionary, or a dissident, a peace-maker or a world-builder, a mom trying to make it through another day or a kid trying to make it through middle school, reward your hard work by not working sometimes. Take time to step back and see how far you’ve come.
For me, this morning, that’s coffee on the waterfront in the Sea Shanti, my new hard-won home.
Afterthought: I’m not the only person who thinks we should spend a little more time idling. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bertrand Russell made a very compelling argument In Praise of Idleness way back in 1932. You can read it here.