When You Feel Overwhelmed Take it One Bite at a Time
I stare at the offending room.
The clutter and chaos taunt me.
My kitchen has become a giant (and maddening) game of whack-a-mole!! It’s clean—it’s cluttered. It’s organized—it looks like a bomb exploded. It’s lemon-fresh—dear heavens what died in here?!?!
It is an ongoing battle (one I’ve enlisted the entire family in fighting) and yet most days it still feels like we are losing!
Today I survey the battle scene.
Every surface needs tending.
I want to have a clean kitchen. I really do.
And yet I pause. I stare. I walk away and come back again. I start at the table, but get distracted by the counter. And then I’m over at the island, before picking something up off the floor.
I back out of the room, deciding to return later.
But later just makes it worse.
I peer into the room and feel completely overwhelmed.
Looking at the mess as a whole feels daunting and impossible.
It makes me want to run. To close the door behind me, throw a condemned sign on the front of the house and just start afresh somewhere else!
But then I remember an odd saying my mom used to recite:
You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
I always questioned that piece of advice. I mean:
- who is going to eat an elephant??? and
- who came up with that? Did a mother somewhere in Africa plop a 6 ton slab of elephant on her son’s plate and say, “Now Johnny, I want you to eat all of your elephant. Just remember to eat it one bite at a time!”
Well, while I don’t have any plans to dine on Dumbo, I do understand the concept.
Instead of looking at the whole, just start with one tiny part.
The advice rings true for kitchen disasters, but as I force myself to focus only on cleaning my kitchen table, I realize my mom’s elephant advice pertains to far more important issues as well.
For the fact is, my kitchen frustrations are just a focus for a far greater frustration: the state of our world—specifically our country.
Things are a mess. A big ol’ giant mess—a mess which makes my kitchen look clean!!!
And I am just one person.
One random, non-political, non-activist, don’t-really-have-a-clue-how-to-affect-change kind of a person.
But I am a person who looks at the state of our world and longs to somehow make it better. I want to help clean our country’s kitchen. But where would I even start???
It feels too big.
Too caked on. Too stacked up. Too much.
And yet, if I do nothing things will only get worse right?
So I guess I need to take my first bite of the elephant.
I wish I could take a big bite. A bite that will bring peace and unity to a tragically divided nation. A bite that will affect policy and process. A bite that can right wrongs and heal wounds.
And yet, I realize my first bite will surely go unnoticed.
After all, the first bite in a 6,000 ton steak is negligible. But it’s a start.
I don’t know what that first bite will be.
I’m still surveying the kitchen.
But I will take a bite.
And you will take a bite.
And maybe, just maybe, a bunch of random, ordinary people, will be able to eat an entire elephant…
One bite at a time.