September 12, 2010

Maintenance, Delight, And

"I decided that I would make my life my argument"
-Albert Schweitzer

from 9am to 4pm today I spent doing absolutely no medical school work but instead at the fall Schweitzer Fellowship retreat for my area. When I woke up this morning and biked to school, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by spending the whole day not doing schoolwork, but talking about service. Yet the day was, in fact, EXACTLY what I needed.

One of the speakers talked about her mantra of how to do great things, which hangs on her bulletin board in the classroom where she teaches math and science to elementary school kids in Maine (and will soon hang on mine right here):


To break it down just a little:

Maintenance: (or "you have to buy toilet paper too")

she described this as all the little, unglamorous things that go into making dreams happen - whether that's balancing your checkbook, seeing what's up with the check engine light on your car, returning emails, or working on relationships. Her anecdote was about how excited her little brother was when he got his first job after being at college - he was raving about how he could afford his own place, he had his own car, he was out to get the world! and her dad said, yup. and now you have to buy toilet paper. to which her brother said, wait, I don't think you hear me: my own place, car, dreams! but her dad said, no, I heard you; but you can't forget about all those little things that make it happen either, like toilet paper.

lesson? budget for toilet paper. or time spending returning emails. or organizing your calendar. or driving to a meeting. and remember that it's not a waste of time - it's the little pieces that make everything happen.

Delight: (the moments that make it all worth it)

even though they may never be as frequent as we like, the word "delight" captures the wonderful surprising moments that come along the way to doing things you care about. Whether that's a smile from a friend, a profound interaction, a good grade, the perfectly timed kiss, having someone say thank you for helping to save my father's life. this keep us going.


her theory with this was that if every time you say the world "but" - you instead say "and" - you give different values to your choices. For example "I would like to go dancing, BUT I have to study" --> "I would like to go dancing AND I have to study" means that you're not necessarily negating the fact that you might be able to go dancing; it reframes the options to equal possibilities.

And I like it.

"I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt."
-Before Sunrise

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