I am reading The Road Less Traveled.
(You’re picturing an anthology of Robert Frost, aren’t you? It’s not that. Think more along the lines of the psychology of living a whole life.)
(You probably became exponentially more or less interested now that you know this isn’t a blog post about 19th century American poetry.)
My friend is reading this book and recommending it from the mountaintops – actually, it’s his third time to read it this month. Seriously? Three times in one month? I need to at least give this book a glance. There’s got to be something amazing behind that book cover.
I’m learning all kinds of things about the psychology of problems, whether and how I choose to solve them, and the nature that problems are part of life. I’m learning about delayed gratification as a way of life, of having the discipline to do the hard things now so I will be more comfortable later.
Essentially, I’m getting my butt kicked by a psychology book from the 1970s. I’m telling you. Good stuff. And so worth the lacerations on my psyche.
The author says he was 37 when he learned that he had the ability to fix mechanical things. He had always written off that skill as an area in which he was born deficient. Just something he couldn’t do.
On a walk through his neighborhood, he walked past a neighbor who was repairing on his lawn mower. Peck, the author, complimented his neighbor and said he wished he had those skills, but he just couldn’t do it. The neighbor said, “Oh, sure you could. You just don’t take the time.”
The author explains this realization that most of the problems in his life, most of the things he believed were set in stone, immovable factors to his way of life, were actually problems he could solve but hadn’t taken the time to fix.
So, for three years now, I’ve lamented the fact that my family cannot-cannot-cannot make it to school on time. And yet, other families do. I just believed they were perhaps more organized, better routinized, more skilled, better parents than I am.
But now you’re telling me that this might actually be something within my control? Something I could change, if I just take the time?
(See? Butt. Kicked.)
Well, sure it is. We are late to school because I haven’t taken the time to get up earlier, to set a routine with the boys that is a regimen they will know even without my reminders. If I take the time to create the routine, then our odds would seriously improve. Or so says Dr. M. Scott Peck.
It has long been said of me, “If Tricia reads something clinical or diagnostic, look out. She’s about to implement.” True story.
And so this principle may also apply to other areas. I can change my oil, if I take the time to learn how. And the converse is true: I could change my oil, but I choose not to take the time to learn how. I leave it to the people who are paid to invest their time and expertise in the dipstick. (A funny word to me since I was seven.)
How it is now isn’t how it always has to be. I do have some control.
And when you’ve lost every sense of control in your life, you want to kiss the hand of the person who gives some back to you.
p.s. We have been on time for school two days in a row.