Or losing the car keys. Or hitting my head on the cupboard door. Or slopping the water out of the dog dish. Or their elbows on the table. Or the sassy snapback from a tired child. It’s not really any of these things. I just use them all as what I describe as a “Happy Hook”.
Here’s how a happy hook works. You can hang all your pent up emotional energy on one small detail and let it out full throttle without ever having to acknowledge why.
I might have many truly serious things going on in my life but, honestly, if I just hadn’t lost my bloody car keys! I’m so concerned about a family member’s health but, honestly, if the kids would just do what I say the FIRST time! If we don’t find work soon we’ll lose the house but, for the love of God, will the puppy never be house-trained? Look at the carpet!
All these happy hooks I find and use in my daily life to distract myself from the actual giant cranes that could come and take me away. Because I can deal with the puppy, have more patience with the shoelaces or the kids’ manners, or find the spare set of car keys. What I cannot solve, control or change are the huge things.
So what is one to do? I was thinking today that what I really need to do at the beginning of each day is: to separate out the large things I cannot change or hurry along; commit them in prayer; place them in a large box and leave them in the Lord’s hands. This will certainly create more space in the room.
Now I have cleared some floor space I can identify more easily the immediate things I can do today – which I can also now more clearly see. I can itemize, list, and arrange those things I can do into piles, then allot tasks and times to them.
The immediate things only start collapsing inward again when I let the large things I cannot control merge back into my daily space. And then I get overwhelmed. Then I get mad and short tempered and impatient and mean and snappy.
The thing is, if I clear the space immediately around me at the beginning of my day, I can see the sunlight hit the wood on the floor in front of me. I might then remember that the sunlight and the wood are the constants whereas these large things and these immediate things will come and go and change over time. Many of them I won’t even remember by the end of next week.
I need to see those immediate things – even those huge things – as just passing through. The sunlight and the wood, however, remain on a daily basis. Every day.
I caught sight of a patch of sunlight this afternoon. In an overstressed day, we were parking at Costco when I noticed the sweet silhouette of my daughter on the passenger door. The sweetness of her round cheek, the wisp of hair, the long eyelash.
If I had organized the immediate space around me better earlier in the day, I might have noticed more things. But at least at the end of the day I did catch this.
A precious glimpse of a little girl’s changing profile in the evening sun.