A few years ago, I was looking at a mess. And it was too much to handle.
My clothes mountained up on the bed. That box of shoes, mugs, books tipped over on the floor. Or where the floor should be, though it was invisible under a chaos of coats and hangers, cables, bandaids, green tea popping out of bags.
This mess: it was the material goods of my life. Which I had picked up from a high-ceilinged apartment in DC and dropped down in a saltine-sized corner room in Brooklyn. All because I had this mad idea of a business I wanted to start, of work I wanted to give the world.
So there I was. Overpowered by the giant mess in my room and the giant project in my life.
I slumped on a stack of coats and ate the only food I had, dry carrots. I dipped them in ketchup – I had seen the bottle in the clothes hanger bag. And I tried to eat fast enough to shove down the fear I felt.
Then the carrots were done. Okay, I thought, okay. Just do the simplest thing you can.
I put the ketchup bottle in the fridge.
Again, I told myself, do the simplest thing again. I picked up a shirt, hung it in the armoire. Again: put pens in the desk drawer. Again: pillowcase on pillow.
I came across my computer, turned on Stevie Wonder, returned to the simplest thing. And with each simple thing, I got a little power back. A little more proof, I can do this.
Two Stevie Wonder albums later, the mess wasn’t so messy. The room was taking shape. It wasn’t where I wanted it to be yet. But I could get it there.
Simple thing by simple thing.