Sustain-ability: what you can, with what you've got, where you are.

Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Boy, this past week has been crazy and the next is shaping up the same. We've got family illness, migraines, too much work, not enough sleep, etc. And lots of good stuff going on too (like PM consults and travel and plans to meet people and so forth). We've all been focused on just motoring through the tough stuff so we can try to enjoy the good.

This happens to everyone of course. Chaos theory tells us that shit clumps up (actually it probably tells us some more elegant things using math, but go with me here) and good or bad, stuff does seem to clump. Even the budding psychonaut commented on it: "why is it completely boring for weeks and then suddenly everything happens all at once?"

And with that mustache, what couldn't he do?

When things get crazy, I like to remind myself of the quote above. Sometimes plans, goals, and best intentions are all sacrificed on the altar of the daily grind. Whatever you want to do, sometimes there are things you have to do. This happens to everyone from time to time and there's no point beating yourself up over it.

Optimally, you'd keep this sort of thing to a minimum. In fact, you can use the amount of time you spend focused only on the immediate -- or worse operating in crisis mitigation mode -- as a metric for how your life overall is going. And the trick to reducing time in crisis mode is to prep when things are going well. Like an emergency fund for life.

For example, most weekends I go to the farmers market on Saturday morning and the local healthy grocery Saturday afternoon (I know, it's a thrill a minute at Chez Ivy). These errands are really enjoyable for me, not just chores, but this weekend I didn't do either. Because of a combination of "up in the night with a very ill person" "morning migraine headache - again" and "epic endless cold rain storm" I just hunkered down at home instead. But since we tend to have a full larder, it's not like we were going to starve. And by taking time to rest on Saturday, I did catch up on some stuff on Sunday. And I make the coming week (work meetings, early flights) easier to deal with as well.

That quote isn't just useful for when things go sideways either. It's also really useful for setting realistic goals for your projects. Because whatever your vision of your future is, the epic journey to get there has to start where you're at right now.

Image that your goal is to "eat better" (and if you ask me, that should be on everyone's list). Now there's lots of ways to eat better and your goal is going to need refining if you want to be able to achieve it. Maybe better is organic, local, sustainable, fair-trade. Maybe better is less takeout and more cooking. Maybe better is no trans fats, fewer empty calories, low carb, low inflammation. Maybe better is together, at the table, as a family. All good goals and all achievable for lots of people.

Not a goal!

But between there and here is a gap. Sometimes a big gap. And in order to bridge that gap you need to start where you are right now.

I get the urge to want to want to do and be all the things! Right now! But you can't ignore where you're starting from and you can't skip the steps in between. Even if you could magically skip to the end goal (maybe through a reality show where contestants humiliate themselves by like eating 100 HotPockets in order to win a new kitchen filled with free vegetables -- any producers watching should contact me for options on this) it wouldn't stick. The process and the journey really are important.

Which is why the eagles couldn't just give Frodo a ride to Mt. Doom.

When there's something about our lives we want to change it's tempting to avoid looking at that part of our lives now. Just like when things we've tried haven't worked, you kind of just want selective amnesia. But where you are is important, what you've done helps you understand what you can do now, and working with what you've got? Well, what else do you have to work with?


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