I can’t believe that today is the last day of July! The days of summer pass all too quickly. Usually, I am happy to turn a calendar page. It signals a fresh start . . . new projects, new opportunities. Yet, looking at August 1, I am reminded of all the projects I planned and started this summer, and realize that it’s unlikely that I will complete all — or any — of them by the time September routines return. My compulsive nature always want to finish projects and get them off my desk and work tables, file them away, or give them to someone else.
I suppose it’s much like anything we undertake: a new relationship, a new pastime, a new diet, or a new approach to prayer. At the start, we have clear goals and expected outcomes, high levels of enthusiasm, and plans about how to proceed. It’s in the long haul that we falter. We run out of steam. We sometimes lose sight of the goal.
At these times, I find it necessary to re-visit my goals. More importantly, I find that I have to commit — and learn to love — the process, and not the end product: photographing, writing, painting, sorting and organizing.
When I started painting classes this summer, I wanted to finish a painting in each painting session. I wanted to put it on the wall or give it away, then move on to the next one. When I said this to a young artist at the art supply store, she quoted one of her own teachers, ” A painting is never finished. You just stop at interesting places.” I think there is a life lesson in these words!
As I look at the projects on my desks at home and church, on my dining room table, on the portable table in my living room, and on the floor in my office, I am resolved to re-think my goals in starting them and whether I am truly committed to the process in the long haul.
- Will I put in the time to nurture my family relationships?
- Will I spend time in prayer even when I don’t see any “results”?
- Will I stay on my food program because it is a healthy plan, whether or not I lose weight?
- Will I enjoy painting regardless of the results?
- In my need to sort and re-organize, do I have to finish every file drawer, bookshelf, and family photo album by September 1?
- Why am I transcribing 10+ years of journals?