If you have ever had to get something done but didn’t know where to start, you have probably experienced a paralyzing state of doing nothing. Nothing except being increasingly worried that a deadline is approaching and you’re not making any progress.
When I find myself in that state of mind, I always go back to a line of dialogue from the 2015 movie The Martian. In the movie, Mark Watney, an astronaut and scientist on a Mars mission, is left behind when the rest of the crew thinks he has been killed in an accident. The movie revolves around the global efforts to rescue him as well as his efforts to stay alive. At the end of the movie, he's teaching young astronauts about how he found a way to survive. He says, “You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem, and you solve the next one, and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”
Hopefully, none of us are facing problems like being stranded on another planet, but we all have problems and issues that confront us, and sometimes we get stuck. I find that moving forward is the only way to get unstuck. As a mentor of mine said in counseling me about making decisions in times of uncertainty, “you can’t recover from indecision.” But when you move forward, even sometimes in the wrong direction, you can recover and take that next step.
Take care and stay safe.
The Fraud by Zadie Smith
It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years.
Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.
Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.
The “Tichborne Trial”—wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title—captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . ..