I subscribe to Seth Godin, who provides me with a few sentences of daily food for thought in my Inbox. This week, I read this link about the difference between accuracy and precision.
Godin’s distinction between the two is one I never thought about before, but I have been thinking about roots.
Deep roots. Strong roots.
Roots grow toward sustenance. They don’t grow toward, or in, barren soil. Cell by cell, rootlet by rootlet, inch by inch, they spread, seeking water, seeking the soil and mineral resource they need. Cell by cell, stem by stem, twig by twig, inch by inch, trees and plants grow aboveground in search of sunlight.
Trees and plants want to live. They seek the resources necessary to do so. Survival is their simple, accurate agenda. A seed germinates and grows toward successful reproduction, wherever it happens to be.
Exactly how the roots and crown need to grow, exactly where the best sustenance and water will be found, exactly what the quality and quantity of sunlight will be, all these precise determinations have no meaning unless the imperative to survive exists, and can’t be planned ahead. It all depends on context.
The accuracy comes first. Then the precise details.
I’m thinking about this because we are relocating, not from Maine, but from this old farmhouse.
A year ago, I wrote a series of posts about holistic management, and I’ve been reviewing my holistic plan regularly ever since. My intention, my accurate intention, in Godin’s language, is to create a simpler, more sustainable life.
The precise details? Well, that’s a hairball of monstrous proportions that’s currently keeping me up nights.
Maybe it doesn’t need to. I started with an accurate intention and have taken all kinds of steps toward that, not only with my physical living situation, but also with my writing and life in general. The precise details of each of those steps were not visible to me a year ago when I created my plan and started acting. I moved forward, and identified and dealt with specifics as I came to them.
When I was younger, I had an easier time with big changes, because there was always time to adjust, to go back, to change my mind, to make another choice in the future. But now, as my partner and I age, it feels more urgent to get it exactly right and position myself perfectly for any eventuality.
This is silly, of course. The things we agonize over usually never happen, and if they do, they don’t happen in the way we predicted. The challenges we do encounter are often complete surprises we could never have foreseen or imagined.
Godin’s thought for the day reminded me, again, that life is a journey. It’s a process. It unfolds. Much as I’d like to know exactly where and when, who and how, those precise details are hidden in the future. It’s not time to know them yet. Right now, today, I need to live those questions and steer with my intention: a simpler, more sustainable life.
That’s the tree I planted last year. Now it’s beginning to grow. The roots are seeking nourishment. The plant aboveground is seeking sunlight. When I look back over the last twelve months, I can see how much growth there’s been, but as I lived the last year I didn’t think about growth or progress. I dealt with specifics arising out of my accurate, intentional seed and put one foot in front of the other.
Now we approach the still, dark, heart of winter, and as I take stock, look over my shoulder and raise my gaze to the horizon ahead, I realize afresh movement in the right direction is what counts. The specifics reveal themselves in their own time. Whatever my feelings of anxiety, fear, and overwhelm, I’m also flowing in the current of my accurate intention.
I’m forced to admit I have a choice. I can rest in faith in myself, in my intentions, and in life generally. I can cultivate my curiosity and sense of exploration, discovery, and fun.
Or I can make myself miserable trying to figure out every single detail yesterday and pushing this important transition to go as fast as possible so I don’t have to feel my feelings and wrestle with my panic-stricken thoughts any more.
It’s really not a choice I want to make. I don’t feel I have the energy to fight my compulsion to speed like a maniac through my life right now, obsessing about money, cleaning, and showings, collecting and packing boxes, and checking online every 10 minutes for new MLS listings. In Central Maine. In December. In our modest price range.
But even as I think that thought, I know it’s a lie. Whatever will be, will be. There’s only so much power I have in this picture. What’s really at stake is whether I enjoy the ride as much as I can or exhaust myself, risking illness and injury, just when I most need to be healthy and whole. One way or another, we are leaving this place and necessarily going somewhere else. Part of me wants to throw up my hands and spin out of control, but the wiser, saner part of me sees the choices clearly and knows which ones to make.
© 2021, Jenny Rose. All rights reserved.
Oh Jenny! Best of luck to you and Carmine for a smooth and life enhancing transition. I know every trepidation you describe! I moved from N Carolina to Portland Or this year. My 19 year marriage had dissolved during covid. I didn’t see it coming at all and the shock of it was overwhelming and terrifying. And heart shattering. I’m 71. How do I make a brand new life NOW?
Turns out – same as I ever have. One step at a time, inching along, and for gods sake, don’t look down. Or backwards.
I’ve been here 6 months now. I live a mile from my son, daughter in law and 5 y/o grandson. I’ve come alive again after many years of atrophying in a marriage and town that was far too small for me. Think frog in the pot of heating water. But I did it. Not even sure how at times. Now I’m rediscovering the self, life, and possibilities that I was sure had gone away for good. Every day is fresh and filled with opportunities for me to explore.
You and Carmine are a force. You got this! Don’t look down.
It’s real wisdom to climb every mountain we come to one step at a time. I’m inspired by your courage and resilience. It’s amazing how life can change, both in terrifying and glorious ways. It sounds as though we’ve had similar journeys, and I know how hard it can be, but so worth it! Congratulations. Be happy. You deserve it! Thank you for reading and commenting!
I always love reading your writing because I love the way you paint with language, but tonight i was more interested in the content than the form. Maybe when you move further south, we’ll finally get to meet, I’d like that very much. Funny ….that I saw this post tonight , I found a book today that made me say, “for 33 cents, (3/$1.00 deal) I must get this for Jenny, it called ✨your name🤝
Isn’t it ridiculous that we can’t seem to meet? I suppose at some point the stars will align correctly! We’re staying in the Skowhegan area, so I don’t expect to be much farther south. I love my job and have no intention of leaving it. Thank you for thinking of me with the books. I enjoyed the Sarton journal. I also love the board books featuring all the artists! Well done! You’re making such an important contribution. Thanks for reading, Pam.