Simplicity-Lit: Big things, little things

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Do you ever feel like the challenges you are dealing with are huge, insurmountable?

It could be moving, or buying a car, or dealing with a discipline issue with your children, or a tough problem at work… It can feel like you are stuck in a well, and no matter what direction you turn, you just see the slick walls of the problem, and it feels like you can’t get out.

Sometimes the reason the challenge feels so daunting isn’t because of the challenge itself, but your distance relative to it. Mark Twain, one of my heroes and a man who faced more than his share of challenges, had an interesting perspective on life’s problems:

“…the events of life are mainly small events – they only seem large when we are close to them. By and by they settle down and we see that one doesn’t show above another. They are all about one general low altitude, and inconsequential.”

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 – University of California Press, 2010

 

When I was 14 I broke my arm jumping my bike off a ramp, Evel Knievel-style. Bike jumping, as we called it, was my only reason for living at the time (or so it seemed to me) and when the doctor said I couldn’t ride bikes for 8-10 weeks, it felt like I’d been given a life sentence.

Yet, when I look back at it, the time I was in the cast seems like a blip – a matter of a day or a week – and not the interminable period it felt like at the time. I have similar feelings about many of the big issues in the past: buying our house, landing a job here or there, surviving a lay-off (or two), fighting through a medical issue (or two)…

At the time, the challenge seemed all-encompassing. In retrospect, life’s mountains shrink to speed bumps. Mr. Twain suggests we can apply that retrospect in advance, or in the present, to keep things in perspective when it really matters.


What big issues have you dealt with in life that now have assumed a more manageable size in the rear-view mirror? Let me know, in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

Happy Holidays!

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