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On picking up the broken pieces in life


Multi-tasking that’s pretty much my — and many other women around the globe — signature. So juggling a book and a glass on one hand and trying to turn on the corridor light with the other is not an uncommon scene with me. A simple task which I expected to execute flawlessly and move on to other things this evening but it oddly turned against me.

I dropped the glass or more correctly as I see it, the glass let go of my grip and crushed on the hard ceramic floor.

I was surprised! I haven’t broken any thing all year and just two days ago I was telling my sister how proud I am because it been ages since I dropped any of my table -ware . In my not too far past this was a common thing to expect of me and I had been extended forgiveness by my mother even before I could need it and started to even enjoy that famous African mother response to her daughters whenever they break kitchen wares : “Break it all! And once you’re done please take out some more from the cupboard and continue!” Of course, you are expected to exercise wisdom to: number 1, not answer back and number 2: to completely disobey her oder to break any more of her table wares!

I derail, but that has always been funny. Back to my broken glass… the pieces scattered everywhere and for a moment I felt a fleeting sense of discouragement. Thoughts of how could I drop a glass?! Now I’m going to have to waste time picking up those pieces and making sure that not a single one remains because someone could get hurt.

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But I quickly snapped out of it. It is a glass for pits sake and I had no intention of breaking it. I was doing what I thought was efficient time management by multi tasking.

So there I am looking at these pieces wondering where to start cleaning up this mess that I have created. I picked up a broom and I realized that perhaps I could make better progress if I first swept away the larger pieces that I could see and worry about the small pieces later. As I write this, the task has been completed but I’m not too sure whether I or someone else won’t come across some tiny pieces I may have missed out on. But when we do see them, we’ll simply picked them up and trash them. Easy.

This seemingly inane exercise got me thinking about how we react when we make mistakes in life, either intentionally or unintentionally, and how we clear up the mess from our lives — the broken glasses.

Sometimes things get out of control and we are simply in a mess — debts, broken relationships, an ailing career suffering because of our bad choices et cetera — that we become paralysed with confusion and we remain in that mess because we don’t know where to start.

A few lessons from my broken glass

  1. We all make mistakes or pick the wrong choices in life. So snap out of it and forgive yourself. And be even more aware that you are likely to make another mistake as soon as tomorrow or even later in the day.
  2. The key is to learn from the mistakes. It will be a very long time before I can hold a book and a glass on one hand as I try to accomplish another task with my other hand. I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m determined not to have to learn it again at the expense of loosing another of my glasses. Perhaps an umbrella and a book in one hand is OK…
  3. Start picking/ clearing your mess from the ‘easy’ or those issues that you yourself understands and have an idea on how to go about them. There are those things which although took time to be engrained into our lives do not require too much to fix. When I looked at all those scattered pieces of glass — the big, the medium and the small — I focused on getting rid of the bigger ones first before I could be bothered by the smaller ones. In any case the only way I was going to clearly see the smaller ones was by removing the bigger ones first. Maybe it’s just a matter of disciplining yourself — start with that before you get to the mortgage. Start with the things you can accomplish and move on steadily to those that require more manpower or expertise. Don’t be afraid to seek help for what you can’t handle alone. The beauty of starting by fixing something yourself is that you get motivated to get through the rest of the mess even if you have to ask for help.
  4. Expect others to forgive you when it’s takes too long for you to have the mess cleared. I know the world is seemingly getting colder by the day. But expect to be forgiven. God can forgive you — even if no body on earth forgives you — you just have to ask. As I said, I’m sure that there could be some small pieces of glass hidden somewhere that I may have missed out on but I know that I tried my level best to sweep and mop the place where the glass fell and I expect to be forgiven and helped to pick them up by those around me.
  5. Maybe surrounding yourself with people who love and support you could have come in first seeing that the above pint is so important but sometimes you don’t know who your right crowd is until you get into a mess. So don’t get discouraged. Turns out getting into a mess could after all help you identify your true friends.
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