Small Moves 2012

After a difficult week, Muri and I have decided to take a mini-mini-vacation in a bed and breakfast that overlooks our favorite beach in Dana Point, CA.   So I’m going to repost Small Moves from July of 2009, a post about taking life one small move at a time.   That’s something I need to do right now.

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Contact, the science fiction movie based on Carl Sagan’s book, isn’t on my favorite movies list, yet when it shows  up on TV as I’m channel surfing late at night, the odds are about 3:1 that I’ll leave it on.    I know I’ll be disappointed in the heavy handed portrayal of people who believe in God and that in the end the closest Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) can come to understanding faith is to believe she actually visited an alien presence during the instant that the capsule was falling.   But I’m a sucker for films about alien contact and time travel, and besides, Contact has moments I love.  My favorite is early in the film when Ted Alloway (David Morse) is teaching his young daughter Ellie to use the ham radio.    Watching her fumble with the tuning dial as she tries to bring in a signal from a distant transmitter, her father tells her, Small moves, Ellie, small moves.  Turning the dial slowly and carefully, Ellie picks up the signal she seeks, learning the patience that serves her well in her life as a radioastronomer searching for the presence of life in space.   It’s a nice metaphor for life.

I find the rhythm of life best when my actions consist of a series of Small Moves rather than grand schemes, although that doesn’t come naturally to me.   Most people think of me as a fairly confident person (some might say arrogant), but outside of my comfort zone, I’m capable of developing plans so grand that contemplating them all at once paralyzes me.  My plans are best kept at the level of visions and mission statements executed as a series of very small moves that I define on a  day-to-day basis.    Also, my spirituality is closely tied to a need to have a purpose in life, and my ego wants a PURPOSE … solving all my families problems or writing the great American novel would do.    I’ve been taught that the way to achieve my purpose is to ask only for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out but for whatever reason, my God-radar has very short range … I usually know what to do at each moment in my day but the broad strokes are beyond me.    Again, Small Moves are best.

Sometimes, even symbolic Small Moves seem to nudge the universe forward.  Some years ago, I was struggling through a spiritual winter.  I  know by now that such times are part of my process and that the spring brings a greater acceptance of God but that doesn’t make them any easier to traverse.    My friend, John, was suffering from a malignant brain tumor and when someone told me about the writings of Dr. Bernie Siegel on the link between spirituality and medicine, I bought two copies of 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, one for me and one for John.  Prescription #173 was Shave It Off, in which Dr. Siegel talked about monks shaving their heads as a spiritual uncovering.   Since shaving his head, he said, he’d found it easier to reveal his authentic self to others and others more open with him.    Within a week, I shaved my head and it remains that way today.   I believe it changed me, not in great strokes but in small ways.   Some time later, I decided to grow a mustache and goatee.    When my wife asked me why, I told her Things need to change, so I’m giving the universe a small nudge.  She laughed.   I did, too, but there was some truth in what I said.  Life went on as it usually does, but when I looked in the mirror, I was reminded … Small Moves.  Perhaps it’s time for another reminder.   Hmm.

Have a happy Sunday, one small move at a time.

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