It is not always the big problems that weighs me down. The saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” do not really take into account that a bag filled with pebbles is as heavy as the same bag filled with one stone. Actually, if it is only one stone, it is easy to spot. It is easy to ask for help heaving it out of the bag, and it is easy to have everyone understand that this stone is too heavy to carry. So a pebble called “make reservations” or ‘file these bills” looks like tasks one should be able to handle, and definitely not ones that calls for sympathy. Even so, life’s tangles are often made up of countless simple tasks that can not be bundled or done in a logical sequence. When done there is no value added, nothing has been produced. The only effect is that chaos has been avoided one more day so that hopefully, tomorrow will be the day when the big stuff can be done.
I know, prioritize, delegate, sort and simplify. Yes, I do that. Even so, some days ago, I was quite unexpectedly blue and sad. All those mundane tasks had became too much and threatened to make me feel nothing I did was worth doing. As it filled my whole week, the next thought could be, nothing I ever did was worth doing. I left my pebbles on our bed though, quite literally. The bed is the best place to sort all those piles, and I had done that, I just had to do what each pile of papers asked for. Resolutely I paper clipped each pile with a note on top on what it was all about. Then I went out. Instead of skipping lunch to get it all done, I biked over to the university and joined my husband for lunch. Not even an hour, no deep conversation, just a burger, just belonging.
Almost every day now I get mail from different charities that are setting up Thanksgiving dinners for the lonely and homeless. Surprisingly small amounts will make them able to supply the traditional meal. In Norway Christmas Eve is the night most people fear to spend alone. Again it is not enough to set up a place, the essence is to sit down at a table, together and to have the expected food. If you say, I was alone at Christmas, everyone else will feel guilty that they did not invite you.
It is so much more than a meal, it is about belonging.
At home, my husband and me often feel the need to call our kids when we are having a meal, that is when we miss them most. When friends come over we want to feed them, or at least give them something to drink.
In both Christianity and Judaism the meal is a sacred place for fellowship. The food itself takes on a ritual character even if it is not very advanced or costly food, bread and wine, the basics.
This weekend we will have dear friends to stay. Even if there are lots of things to do and places we could go, what we look forward to most is the long meals with the long conversations. Time to dwell, together.
Why? My unscientific opinion is that when we take time to eat together, to share the resources and not fight over them, to allow each of us the same position around the table, we know deep in our soul that we belong together. We will meet diversities and problems as a unit, not as individuals. A shared meal tells us, we are not alone.
So should the untangling tool be to set up a big dinner or plan a family reunion? Would not that just add another thread in your tangle? It would. You need people though!
I just talked to a woman who is mentor to students that need extra encouragement. What did she do? Meet them for ice-cream, and let them talk. Could you do that? Just text a friend and meet for coffee, soon? You do not need to mention your problems, you do not need to ask for advice, what you do need, is to know that we are meant to be in this life together. Or could you offer that to someone else? It is all about fellowship, to know that neither of us should have to be alone. Your tangle will not disappear. Your life will not get less complicated. If you are lucky you will get another perspective on it all, you will get a reminder of what is important to you. If you are really blessed you will have been able to laugh together and tell each other, this too will pass.
In November I take part in the NaNoBloMo not the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?
All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. These are from the Laguna at the UCSB and from the traditional 17.May picnic for Norwegian Americans.