The Unhelpful Thing in Your One Wild and Precious Life

not helping


Let’s say you hired a trained professional, a life coach, and she asked you what you want to do, who you want to be, what you want to do in this life, that just thinking about makes as you bubbly as Prosecco.

No doubt you have a list that you could rattle off pretty quickly, right? You want to swim a great length like Diana Nyad, become the go-to expert in perfectly folded fitted sheets, write irreverent, insightful spiritual books like Anne Lamott, design a collection of appliqued kitchen towels, adeptly play the harmonium, master revolved ardha chandrasana pose. It’s easy to come up with a list because it sits there, just below the surface of your attention.

And our attention is certainly lacking, is it not? We are rattled, distracted, entertained, interrupted, beeped at, buzzed, instant messaged, voice mailed, and tapped on the shoulder all the day long. It’s no wonder we never get to do The Thing that we want. The things.

So imagine that you hired that coach, and consider that I am she, sent from God to tell you that what we need to do is just start with one tiny little thing. Which is, when I ask you, What is preventing you from doing that thing? What is not helping? – to pay attention to the first thing that pops into your head.

Just the one thing. What is the one thing that pops into your head immediately when you ask yourself, What is not helping?

And here. Please do read this famous poem by Mary Oliver.