Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being Amazing

Deborah and I watched Julie & Julia the other night. If you haven't seen it, do: It's a very sweet, funny movie, and very well worth your time. For those who haven't seen it, it's the parallel stories of a bored diplomat's wife in Paris (Julia Child) who learns French cooking as something to keep her occupied, and a frustrated writer/government secretary (Julie Powell) who decides to work through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, and blog about the process.

In both lives, separated by many decades, there's the question, What should I do with myself? and the relatively straightforward answer, What do you want to do? What are you good at? Each attacks the challenge with gusto.

It's a question that hits close to home, for nearly everyone, but also here. Deborah, especially, has been vacillating on the question of what to do with herself. My weak admonition — usually on my way out the door — is "Be amazing."

Of course, that gets interpreted in various ways. I leave it open-ended: washing all the dishes is amazing; so is calling up friends to organize a get-together, trying new recipes, teaching Fiona to play the piano. They all count. The stuff that doesn't count? It's the stuff that fills up most of our time in between planned activities — little games, Facebook, idle clicking through channels, blogging (no!), things that don't advance the cause of anything. Now, don't get me wrong — we all need down time. But we need up time, too. How many of us while away the hours and never go do something amazing? I know I'm guilty.

Be amazing.

I wish it were that easy.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 9:10


tumbleweedgirl said...

i need to think about that more too. most of the time i just make do, make ends meet.

Andy said...


You, of all people, are amazing. Making ends meet and caring for Lia under the circumstances you have certainly qualifies!


johnsonweider said...

I have found joy of late in helping others while doing projects that I enjoy. It's sort of like a double joy! So - baking bread for the homeless on my commute into work, or working on quilts for wounded soldiers or family members. Having kids who are constantly watching is such a great reminder to act like I want everyone else to act - to try to always say thank you, to express love and gratitude, to show compassion for others, to give freely. I frequently don't live up to my own expectations, but when I do, I consider it pretty amazing. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree, Andy. Merna, Joh, Allan, and I saw this on Tuesday evening. Wonderful movie, very worth renting/seeing. - Jim E.

johnsonweider said...

Just had to say that I discovered someone truly amazing: Christine, who blogs here: http://www.welcometomybrain.net/ Wow. I'm in awe.
There are some parents out there who parent kids who are really really REALLY hard to parent and they do it GREAT. Those parents are my definition of amazing!!!

johnsonweider said...

I keep thinking about this blog and thus I keep commenting (which is either a compliment to the topic of the blog or an insight that I am like a 3-year-old who will keep babbling until noticed...) I have also struggled a lot in years past with the question of "what should I do with myself" and "what am I good at?" Those are HARD questions. Lately, I've been more at peace. I'm trying to learn what a Buddhist teacher calls "leaning into" problems. So, if you're uncomfortable about a situation (like the homeless on the street or the upset kids in your house), the usual gut reaction is to avoid it. Instead, trying leaning into the issue, getting involved, asking the question: How can I help? How can I improve this situation? What can I do right now that might make a little bit of difference? Like you said, it might be: wash the dishes and clean the kitchen so that my husband is a little less stressed. It might be teach your child how to do something or just spend a little more time thinking of someone else rather than obsessing over the questions in your own head. You're right that the computer time, the blogging, the TV - that stuff doesn't count. I like how you said "we need up, time too". You're right - that is the stuff of amazing.

Andy said...

"Leaning into problems" reminds me a bit of leaning into a turn on a motorcycle: the harder you try to stay upright, the scarier it is — but throw your weight mightily against the pegs and grips, and you turn like it's nothing — it's a rush, even.

Your teacher's advice mirrors that of other teachers I've had: If something is bothering you, it may be that God wants you to do something about it.