Have you ever had a week, where by the end of it, you proudly look at your to-do-list and see, with satisfaction, that you have ticked off every item on it?
Yeah, well that wasn’t my week. I think I’ll call this week the ‘gunna-do’ week. This was the week I was ‘gunna-do’ this, and I was ‘gunna-do’ that, and I was ‘gunna-do’ these 16 other things.
It’s depressing, because as I transfer those ‘gunna-do’ items to my to-do-list of this week, it makes it run a mile long. My ‘little list’ suddenly touches the floor when unfolded.
In the midst of berating myself for failing, for being lazy and for being unorganised, I read something. I had what you’d call a ‘light-bulb’ moment.
Apparently on December 9, 1914 a fire ripped out in the factories of inventor Thomas Edison. It was huge. It shot great green flames from all the chemicals. Several people were overcome with fumes, fire-fighters and volunteers alike, and one worker died. It needed the aid of fire departments of eight nearby towns to put it out. In the middle of all this, Mr Edison asked his son, Charles, who was overcome with horror at the event, “Where’s Mother? Get her over here, and her friends, too. They’ll never see a fire like this again.”
Thomas Edison was 67 years old at the time and half his factories were going up in toxic smoke, and he was taking the time to see the fire for the ‘spectacle’ it was. Within three weeks, the Edison factories were restored to some semblance of order; and by New Year’s day, there were running at two shifts.
Mr Edison didn’t quit, he didn’t panic, he didn’t spend weeks berating himself for the things he could have, should have or would have done. He said, “I am sixty-seven years old, but I’m not too old to make a fresh start.’ Then he got in and did what had to be done.
It really puts my ‘gunna-do’ week into perspective. I can stand around wringing my hands and lamenting ‘woe is me’ at all the stuff that didn’t get done…or I can observe that it was a derailed train of a week, admire the spectacle, then just get on with the task of completing that list.
I can’t change what has (or hasn’t) been, I can only decide to work with that I have now. I know that is something I ‘should’ know, but sometimes it’s so easy to forget when everything seems to have fallen apart at my feet.
So thank you, Thomas Edison. And with renewed purpose, I face the coming week.