Hello friends and fellow bloggers, especially those from the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/. Thank you to all who made such kind and encouraging comments on last week’s blog, “Goodnight Stress.” I am happy to report that this week has been much better, but it has been busy. Busy, busy, busy. That’s why I thought this week I would use the short story “Upstairs and Downstairs” from Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel. I think the introductory passage of the story best sums up what I would like to talk about today:
“Owl’s house had an upstairs and a downstairs. There were twenty steps on the stairway. Some of the time Owl was upstairs in his bedroom. At other times Owl was downstairs in his living room. When Owl was downstairs, he said, ‘I wonder how my upstairs is?’ When Owl was upstairs, he said, ‘I wonder how my downstairs is getting along? I am always missing one place or the other. There must be a way,’ said Owl, ‘to be upstairs and to be downstairs at the same time.’ ‘Perhaps if I run very, very fast, I can be in both places at once.’”
From there, the story gets more hilarious as Owl attempts to race faster and faster up and down the stairs in his attempt to be in both places. He eventually exhausts himself and ends up sitting on the middle step in the stairs because “it was a place right in the middle.”
Reflections: In this story, Arnold Lobel beautifully captures the childlike desire of wanting everything at once. Of course, young children are usually caught between positives: “I want to do this and this!” Or as Owl put it, “I am always missing one place or the other.”
As adults, I think we tend to feel caught between negatives, “I have to clean the house, I have to meet a client, I have to write a brief…how am I going to get it all done!?” Or, a little more positively, we feel caught between a negative and a positive: “I really should be preparing for my hearing this afternoon, but it’s so much more fun to write my blog….”
If you have not figured it out yet from my talk of clients and briefs, in addition to launching my writing career this past summer, I decided to start my own law practice. In many ways, this career move has been fun and exciting. I get to make my own schedule, I don’t have a boss, I have time to take my dog on long hikes and write, and I get to choose what area of law I work in. There are of course risks as well; first and foremost is I need to make enough money to pay off my student loans.
Like Owl, I’ve had moments recently when I feel like I’m running at high speeds between obligations but never quite achieving success in any of them. I realize now that when I decided to open up my own practice, I also decided to become a secretary and an accountant (both of which are much harder than being a lawyer). Likewise, I now know that when I decided to write a book, I also decided to become a blogger, a tweeter, a marketer, an editor, and a researcher.
I have not figured out the secret to successfully balancing my many obligations, but I do know I need to remember that, like Owl, I am caught between two positives: I love writing, and I love being a lawyer. I don’t particularly like figuring out all my billing or trying to make sense of the children’s book market. But, I think the key to my middle-step solution is realizing that big, happy things often have little, negative things that come along with them. As long as I learn to avoid Owl’s mistake of needlessly running around like crazy, I should be fine.
That’s all for this week. I leave you with a bit of advice that I’m going to follow as soon as I post this because I really do need to prepare for that hearing: take a deeeeeeeep breath everyone and use the big, happy things to motivate you to take care of those nagging, little things. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog today. Feel free to share some of your Owl-like tendencies: what are the things in your life that make you wish you could be in ten places at once?