I recently watched snippets of an interview with actor Michael Caine. In it he talks about a play he was in as a young actor where other actors got carried away in a scene and threw a chair. The chair ended up getting lodged in a doorway where Michael Caine had to enter.
Because it was in his way, he paused and expressed his concern to the director. The director yelled “Use the difficulty.” “If it’s a comedy, fall over it. If it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it.”
I enjoyed this interpretation, not only for it’s simplicity, but also because many days we hope to walk into a predictable day…however many days, we don’t. Even with thinking and planning ahead, life finds ways to present challenges. If you can put tools (or quotes) in place, you can go back to them to remind you things are not so bad, or how to handle the challenges.
As part of my weekend ritual I fill in my work load and look ahead to meetings that week. This was something I did to try an ease my anxiety. By organizing my to do list, I could try and identify problems ahead of time.
One problem came from this…I never left room for the uncertain…no room to allow myself time to ‘Use the difficulty.’
If I started my day following my plan and some variable or problem arouse from something I didn’t consider, I would get frustrated. I kept tightening my lists, hoping I could identify EVERY problem I might face. I would even block out ‘focus time’ on the work calendar in hopes of quietly blocking potential problems.
The problem, I discovered, if that by trying to think and plan for everything, it left no room for variation. When that would happen, I would get anxious AND somehow see it as a failure.
In my younger years, I thrived in the ER/short order cook environment. I welcomed the challenges and was geared up to take them on. Twenty-five year later me, not so much. I was in shape, had a full head of hair on my head, and at that point really didn’t have many life challenges to overcome.
Twenty-five year later me felt like a cartoon character in the middle of the highway who kept getting run over by trucks and cars.
Now I am on a self-exploration journey. Trying to forgive myself, trying not to blame myself and working on NOT being the young me again…but a new me with all the qualities I have gained over the years. Being reminded to ‘Use the Difficulty’ is something so simple, but something we can forget over time.