Recently, I decided to attend some free knitting and crocheting classes offered at a local community center. The idea of learning new things is more appealing to me at 63 than it has been for quite some time. Besides, I was hopeful that it would be beneficial in combating stress, something my doctor recently warned was affecting my health.
I love playing the tile-matching video game Tetris. The reason I like it is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.
A good friend of mine decided to take up tennis. She bought all the gear, scheduled her first lesson, and headed off to the tennis courts.
When she got there, though, she was immediately aware that there were other people around. There were kids in the playground, people walking their dogs, and a group of others watching a baseball game nearby. Although none of them were watching her, having people around made her extremely self-conscious.
As the sun was setting, I walked briskly toward the bus station after a tiring day at work. I knew from experience that the city bus didn’t come by that often, and I didn’t want to miss it.
A teenager sporting fashionable Oakley sunglasses, a plush black suit, and a haircut with designed grooves shaved into the sides above his ears stood in front of the mini-supermarket. His glasses and stance could have passed for someone applying for a position of private bodyguard.
Recently, I was contemplating the topic of wrong choices, after having made a few myself, and was feeling a bit discouraged. Most of us enjoy finding we’ve made the right decisions, and we can definitely see the benefits in those. But it’s harder to see any good that could come from our wrong choices. We make plenty of those, however, from the small ones that we often sweep under the carpet, hoping no one else noticed, to some real whiz-bangers.
Do you sometimes feel like a failure? Things haven’t turned out the way you thought they should have or the way you wanted? Your expectations have been disappointed, your goals haven’t been reached?
Well, let me tell you about a man who felt like a failure.
I was ten years old when I first heard of Albert Schweitzer, and I was really impressed by his dedication—to the point that I started contemplating becoming a doctor like him and following in his footsteps in Africa. Those were the days when in order to know more about something or somebody, you had to look through books, encyclopedias, and most of the time, go to the library. In other words, curiosity didn’t find immediate satisfaction, and there was a certain amount of serendipity and mystery involved.
One typical rainy spring evening in Rijeka, I was sitting on bus number 18 going home after a long day—at least, I thought it was bus 18. There were about 30 other passengers on the bus, equally tired and impatient to get home.
As we reached a crossroads, instead of turning right as usual, the bus took a left. Did I get on the wrong bus? I was about to ask when other passengers started shouting to the bus driver, “Where are you going?” So at least I was on the right bus after all.
We all have them—plans that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, prayers that seem like they didn’t make it past the ceiling, dreams that break and are shattered as we wonder what went wrong. We keep going, but often these apparent failures remain etched in our mind along with a question mark. Why didn’t things turn out the way I had planned or hoped or prayed?
I’m quite excited about my New Year’s resolution, and I think it’s going to work. No, I know it’s going to work. It’s got to, because I see now that my future hinges on it. “Think small.”
That may seem like a contradiction of the usual New Year refrain—“Think big”—but actually, it complements it. I hit on “Think small” after a friend pointed me to “The Formula,” an online article by Jim Rohn. Here are a few excerpts that sum up the “think small” strategy: