Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fighting fire with fire

This phrase has become so common in our day to day speech that we often forget the real and startling phenomenon—setting a line of fire to stop a fire. It’s a miraculous thing, and who would ever have thought it would work?

In this crazy world, I sometimes double dip my challenges and find to my surprise that both become easier to manage. For example, I used to read The Economist while riding the recumbent bike at the gym. I find The Economist rather obscure and dry, but it was a time when I needed to be well informed, so I read it. As for exercise of any time, well, I can get into a zone and I find its effects highly desirable, but it is not something I would choose as a daily activity if I were designing the world. Oddly enough, taken together, both weekly economic briefing and aerobic activity became more bearable.

The commute—the dreaded commute, so deeply dreaded because the last time I had a significant commute my whole world came unraveled—has had an unanticipated benefit. My house is more organized and cleaner than it has been in years. A friend looked at me in awe the other day, “How did you accomplish that?”

Because I was so worried about driving an hour to work and an hour back, and because I so very much want to create the best chances of success for this new work venture, I set about reorganizing my life a few months ago, really as soon as I knew I was making this change. I was ruthless. I must have exercise in the morning, so I bought a treadmill. I did test runs of morning routine, cutting out anything that slowed me down. I weeded my wardrobe and set up rigorous laundry routines. I bought a new coffeepot. I got rid of all manner of clutter, any little thing that might get in the way of success.

Then one day I looked up, and my house was orderly and clean, almost without effort.

There was a song I used to like that had a line “Funny how those moments come, it hits you, your life has changed…” We concentrate so hard on small steps that the new life we planned so carefully and worked so hard to achieve sometimes catches us by surprise in a moment of unanticipated grace.


mm said...

Well, this has pulled me out of lurkerdom. What a good post and what an inspiring example of how a degree of self-discipline (which can sometimes feel like a punishing term) can become a vital part of self-care.

I didn't know the origins of fighting fire with fire either.

Thank you Karen.

wesleyjeanne said...

I love the last paragraph of thi post. You are so right.