Saturday, October 04, 2008

Just Do It

"Prince of Action" mixed media, 4" x 11"

My dad had a very clear, straight-forward decision making process. When something needed to be done, he just did it. If he knew he had to stop something, he'd just stop. My dad developed type two diabetes when I was young. He had to cut out sugar and modify his diet in other ways. He knew what he needed to do and he just did it. There was no struggle, no expression of loss, no complaining. If asked how he felt about having to adjust to such a change, most often he'd say something like, "I'm not happy about it, but it's what needed to be done." Sometimes I wish I had just a pinch more of this no nonsense approach. While I appreciate and honor my deep, soul-searching, emotional musings about things, sometimes I wish I could cut through all of that for a moment and just get something done. No worry, no second-guessing, no agony over what is best. As my dad told me once when a tree had fallen, smashing up the deck in my parent's backyard, "It doesn't matter how I feel about this, I just have to fix the deck." And he did.

My dad was not unemotional--he felt things very deeply--but he rarely (perhaps never?) became immobilized due to fear or a sense of burden or worry. When he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in January, he told his doctor, "I'll do what needs to be done." I find it amazing how my dad was always able to move forward, even through massive obstacles and setbacks. During hard times, he'd gather himself up, take a deep breath, and ask, "Okay, so what's next?"

So today, as I sit here hearing the Seattle wind whipping and swirling outside, I ask myself "What's next?" What's next for my business, my art, my writing? How do make a real living at what I do? Normally, I would have a little meltdown and simmer in my worry for a while. What would my dad say to me if he were still alive? I think he'd say, "Ode [one of his many nicknames for me], figure out what you need to do and do it." It sounds so simple and so excruciatingly hard all at the same time. I can hear myself asking him," But how do I know what to do?" and I hear his reply: "You know by doing it." I guess I need to start taking some steps, huh. I suppose I can't just think my way into doing, I have to do it. One, two, three, here I go....


  1. I SO admire your father's approach to problem solving. A pragmatic man (or woman) is hard to find. He sounds like he was such a good father; I know how much you must miss him. You are so blessed to have had his example and love.

  2. Your father taught you so many valuable lessons. Courage and determination.

    I keep this quote up in my studio as I often get overwhelmed by the big picture and don't know where to start:

    Inaction breeds doubt and fear.
    Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.
    Go out and get busy.
    --Dale Carnegie>

    Here's another good one:
    The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
    -- William Faulkner


  3. "Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping."

    --Augustus Hare