Lately, it seems as if any and every project I have going on is halfway there, with no completion in sight. There’s the half-finished garden path Sarah and I are installing, a fence we are putting in around the vegetable area, still half-built, a half-stained deck, a “mostly” painted bedroom, and one of three cars has been cleaned and waxed for spring. At work, it’s much the same. It is constantly busy, but nothing is completed other than minor computer problems that I fix on a day to day basis.
I’ve taken a few weekend trips to the woods over the past few months, and half of those were cut short because, well, I just came home. My big personal project, filming and producing videos with the intent of sharing useful knowledge and experience to those who would like to take their own trips to the woods has stalled, totally.
I need to complete something. Anything, really, that’s bigger than a five minute task. Ultimately, my life has been a series of constant projects that get “almost there”, but not quite. Including my marriage to Megan.
Megan and I had things going “as planned”. We met, dated, married, bought a house, had a daughter, and were on the path of raising her to be healthy, happy, and well learned. Hell, by second grade, she was considered gifted in both reading and math. Megan received her transplant and was finally healthy herself. We had started working on being a better couple and “dating” again
Then, just as we were beginning our effort into that stage,Megan went into organ rejection. There it was. The issue that was going to stall us out on completing something. One thing led to another, and six months later, she was dead.
That has torn me up since then. The half-completed project to have a stronger marriage was not, nor will it ever be completed. It’s like running out of supplies and losing all of one’s tools in the middle of building something. Oh, and the lumberyard is closed and it’s a holiday weekend, so you can’t just go get more. Matter of fact, the lumberyard burnt down and they stopped manufacturing nails and hammers.
Yeah, it’s like that. Only, it’s not, really.
Sarah and I visited the counselor last week, and while everything has been going pretty damned well for a while now, when she asked if anything was going on, I immediately went into what I’ve written about above..the half-finished projects and being so overwhelmed and busy with 20 different things that I can’t finish any single one of them. After talking it out for a bit, I came to realize something.
None of those projects are half-done. I just needed to break them down into SMALLER projects. Instead of seeing the garden path as only halfway there, I needed to see the “6 feet I wanted to get done today as done”. One of the cars is DONE. The floor of the deck is DONE. Those 15 people at work I needed to get done today are DONE.
And Megan and I’s dating life, marriage, childbirth, house purchase and transplant are all projects that are DONE. Sometimes, I am very guilty of focusing TOO much on the “bigger picture” and losing sight of the little victories that happen every day. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, Megan and I never got to the point that we renewed our vows and felt as if all was right in the world between us, but we were getting there. We had successful dates. We had more days of loving, committed togetherness near the end than not. Our project wasn’t half-done...it just ended where it did.
I have to accept AND appreciate that it wasn’t a failure, which is sometimes hard for me. The end result is the end result, and as long as I don’t feel I’ve given up on something, then I can be satisfied. Sarah, to her credit, is very good at making me see the trees for the forest, when I am generally the other way around.
So, Megan is gone, and we can no longer “work on things”. But the point is we DID work on things. We had little victories almost daily by the time she got sick. Even my grief about losing her, while overall will never be “complete”, gets a little better each day. A little easier to deal with. If I get a “trigger” and don’t want to just bawl, well, then, that was a mini-project that I saw through to completion, regardless of the end result.
Ultimately, some projects will never be completed. Some projects have to be broken down into their component parts in order to keep momentum going. Focusing on the bigger picture can get me into a bad mental state, where I get pessimistic and lose confidence that something will ever be “over with”.
But talking it out and writing about it helps me realize that as long as the tiniest baby step is taken towards completion, then I can be happy that it’s progressing.