So this week, I’m in L.A. I’ll be here until April, though the cat is back here for good, and that return trip to me looks like the edge of a cliff, the edge of the world, which I can’t see beyond. But for now, I’m good. And although my cat seems angry at me, he’ll be fine too. Better than he would be in France.
What I wanted to write about today is goals and steps towards goals. It’s something I need to work on, I’m not very good at. I have pretty vague goals, or maybe even specific goals (like work with Joss Whedon) but no clue about the steps one takes to reach the goals. So I end up kind of running around doing whatever I can think of. I still don’t know how to walk in a straight line towards a goal. But last Saturday was kind of a lesson in goals.
In preparation for my trip, I needed to get my cat to the vet for a health certificate. The vet isn’t very far. I’d walked up there in 10 minutes the week before, wielding my cat’s passport and other papers, to ask what he might need. But this week was different. The day before, it had snowed. So there was a nice, new layer of snow on the ground. I had already planned to take the bus up the street two or three stops, so I loaded the cat into his carrier (well, the dog’s carrier, it’s smaller than the one in the photo), threw a blanket over it, and hobbled out the door. I realized that I couldn’t exactly set the case down when my arms were about to be ripped off, so I ended up walking from curb to curb – you know I don’t even know what the things are called. Along the small, residential street I was walking up were short, stubby little cement things meant to keep cars in their place. I would place the cage on top of one for a couple seconds to breath before continuing to the bus stop. I waited at the bus stop, but when 9:43 rolled around and there was no bus, I got worried. The appointment was at 9:45. So I did the only thing I could do. I picked up the cage again and started walking. The whole way there, I had to stop every 60 seconds or so to rest (he’s a heavy cat, OK, and it’s an awkward way to carry that much weight). At some point I had to turn down another street and lost my lovely stubby concrete blocks. I did everything I could to keep shifting his weight, until I stumbled, icy and sweating, into the vet’s office. He got his papers, and then it was time to head back. I wasn’t looking forward to that. But I did the same routine. Walkwalkwalkwalk STOP. Walkwalkwalkwalk STOP. And that’s when, looking down the street at how much farther I had to go, I thought about goals.
I had the goal of getting home, and I couldn’t make it in one go. Not carrying this load. So I started making smaller goals. “OK, now I’m going to make it to THAT stubby thing.” I’d make it there, and then make another goal. I made them reachable. Maybe just barely, sometimes. But I focused on that, knowing where I wanted to end up, and eventually I made it home. By focusing on the smaller goals, I didn’t get discouraged thinking about the final goal. And I think it can work that way with many things. You can get easily overwhelmed if you think about everything you have to do to be where you want to be, or you can sit down and figure out the steps you’re going to take, and focus on each step.
I suppose it’s something I need to sit down and map out for myself very soon, because I find myself overwhelmed… not by everything I need to do to get somewhere, but because I don’t know what to do to get there. Having little stepping stones would be a good thing. For a long time, I’d just been looking around for stepping stones, and hopping over to them. The I look for another, and hop to that. But I didn’t know for sure that they would lead where I wanted to go. People would tell me, “do this!” but nobody had proof that it lead anywhere. So I’m in a period of figuring out the path to where I want to be. How about you?
Next time…. you think the walk with the cat was bad? The next day with the dog was even worse….