Ed sat with me when I was new. We were having coffee somewhere. I was rambling on about all of the calamities in my life–the typical kit of problems that new people have.
I had no solutions, of course. The same brain that creates the problems cannot be the source of solutions. “Your best thinking got you here”, etc.
He said to me, “Why worry about these things?” Just do the one day at a time drill, he said, and everything takes care of itself.
He was right, of course. A year later I stood there and I could only dimly remember the dilemmas and hardships that crippled me a year before.
But my response to Ed’s question, at that time, was telling. I said that if I worried I might come up with an answer.
Hah. My random brain coming up with a random, great answer. That’s the 40,000 monkeys with typewriters solution. It’s the solution of someone who had always relied on his own brain, his own intelligence. And of course it had failed utterly.
So, two points.
First, I needed a course of action. Doing, not thinking. Ed and the others supplied the plan.
Second, I needed an open mind. Just a crack. A mind just barely receptive to suggestions. Life has a way of beating us into reasonableness until an open mind occurs!
Ed and the others created a space where it was safe–just for a moment–to consider ideas other than my own. I accepted their recommendation for a course of action.
I continued to worry incessantly, of course. But I also did the suggested footwork and reaped the benefits of the footwork.
One of the benefits? A first-hand personal demonstration of what solved problems (action) and what didn’t (thinking).
Which led me today, some thirty years later, to the carpenter. Matthew 6:27, from English Standard Version (ESV):
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
The KJV, which was the Bible is my childhood, says it like this:
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
Young me was distracted by the “cubit” stuff. Today me resonates with the “add an hour” analogy.
here’s the point, though. Don’t get caught up with words. If worry won’t accomplish something as important as extending my life (or making me a foot taller), what makes me think it will solve the trivial questions in my life?
Also. My closed mind persists. For whatever reason, I have clung to the belief (even today!) that the KJV is the only way to read what the carpenter said.
Nope. There are many ways to express the ideas. Keep an open mind and read many versions. Stay humble. We are all Privates in this army.