Recently I was walking home from work, feeling sort of gross, and it took me the entire walk home to realize it was because of the spoonful of peanut butter I had at 5:07, before I left work at 5:30, before I took the train and some escalators and got home. And I had this aha moment, this realization that the afternoon pause for spoons and peanut butter, this tiny little insignificant snack, was more than the sum of its parts. Spoons and peanut butter go together, you know? It’s such a handy I’m-slightly-hungry snack that’s healthy enough that I don’t feel bad about said snacking. And I love (the idea of?) peanut butter, so somehow the fact that that it’s been making me feel bad with increasing frequency hasn’t translated to action.
The problem is that I’ve been so focused on the larger consequence that I’m losing sight of the smaller, gradual steps. I’ve gotten better at the whole big-pictures-causing-blind-spots thing, but I’m far from perfect and luckily reminders of progress over perfection still sneak in. And I can think on something and see the steps, sometimes: Reese’s, which I use to consume with some regularity, are now something I have maaaaaybe once a month or so (see also: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, because they are excellent). I buy a jar of peanut butter maybe 4x a year? If that? So I’ve scaled back, somewhat subconsciously and somewhat consciously, finding a way to make moderation work for me, except now I maybe have to scale back again, scale back more, to smaller spoonfuls, or no spoonfuls.
The universe, it seems, has been reminding me of the fact that small steps (and teeny tiny fixes) are important things to keep sight of, because incremental changes (whether specifically steps forward or not) are, for me, more often than not the way progress is made. Lately I’ve been reading archives and miscellaneous posts on enJOY it by Elise Blaha (is that the proper way to refer to that? titles: not a thing I am good at), because somehow I missed the (many years’ long) internet memo and only discovered her last week. I am so in love with all of the things, but, for the sake of brevity, what really stuck was her post about a 365 day calendar/goal tracker/motivator. Because, this:
I really believe that progress is better than perfection because progress is something we can strive for. Progress is motivating. Perfection is paralyzing. This calendar’s goal is to encourage you to pick ONE THING for the year. Something you can attempt to do everyday. And then this calendar will help you track it and hopefully remind you that there is a much larger picture to see here.
Given that I’ve been able to relatively painlessly wean myself off of peanut butter because it makes me feel odd and sort of nauseous (yay, weird genes? my dad’s the same way and it also hit him in his twenties?), why can’t I also, at the same time and on the same timeline, get myself back in decent shape? figure out a blog schedule that I’ll actually stick to? fall back into reading? I’ve been saying, emphatically, that I need to write more, need to run more (or at all), need to read more. But I’ve also been doing the thing where it’s all big goals, all “well, shit, I didn’t read at all last weekend and I wanted to finish that book and I haven’t even started, so maybe I’ll just watch Modern Family instead?” And that’s the part where that 365 day calendar comes back in.
So that’s what I’m doing: I’m scaling back and I’m moving forward all at once. While I still have half a jar of peanut butter in my desk at work, I’m less about the spoons and peanut butter and more about the blueberries I picked the last time I went up to my dad’s. (Because they don’t ripen all at once. Because they require patience, and care, and maybe
some a lot of netting and fencing, and even then: results aren’t guaranteed, but you’ll end up with something that has grown and probably nourished you.) Over the last week, I’ve gone for two runs and read from my kindle on my commute home from work each day. Neither is particularly impressive numbers-wise: both runs were under a mile and a half, and there’s only so much reading one can do after jostling for a seat and fighting for space on a packed commuter train. But I’ve been running an amount that is healthy for me (in that I need to ease back into it, very slowly) and reading a little bit each day, and I’m happy with that. Progress, and perspective – and blueberries, because summer is wonderful.