Chop wood; Carry water

Self-created drama.

Know anything about it?

I could, right now, (with a rather straight face) type out that I've observed the phenomena but never been an active participant. It would be a lie. But, I could type it out.

I have seen a lot of this lately.

I don't talk much about world events. Frankly, because I think we hear the same stuff sliced in different ways over and over's enough, already. Right? But, unless you live in a cave (which doesn't sound all that bad to me at this point), you know it's been a crazy couple of weeks on the world stage. Has it not?

Ironically, someone asked me “How is it that you stay so calm in the middle of all this?”

Me? Calm? That's a cute concept. But, I have been. And, it's because I've realized, whether something goes horribly wrong or wonderfully right, in the grand scheme of things it really does not matter.

It really doesn't. Next week there will be something else to get all torn up about if you choose to do so.

The week after that, there will be something else.

Sure, you may remember the events of the past few weeks for many, many years to come. You probably won't have a choice because there will be media reminders at every anniversary check point. There will be debates among your colleagues for days and weeks to come. But allowing yourself to become entangled and entrapped in the overflow of emotional aspects of something that you have no control over is a big fat waste of time and energy.

So, what do you do?

A friend of mine has this saying, “Chop wood, carry water.”

In essence, what that means is, “Life goes on.” And, it does have a tendency to do that. You have to do what you have to do. You have to take care of those mundane every day tasks. You incorporate what is happening around you. You adjust when you need to. You help when you can. You pray. But, at the end of the day, you still have to feed the children, give the dog a bath, wash the dishes and chop the wood and carry the water. This is much more effectively dealt with if you haven't spent all your energy trying to figure out something that makes absolutely no sense to begin with.

There are instances, however, where people feel like they must react to something. Or, it may be that they feel they need something to react to.

What happens is they are chopping their wood and carrying their water and they get bored. Or, they become antsy. Things have been too routine for too long. The other shoe is bound to drop. The anticipation of something exploding in their own personal sphere becomes intolerable. So, they (consciously or unconsciously) create their own explosion. Viola! Self-created drama.


In the defense of some, this can be a habit that a person is not really aware of. For example, if you grew up in a household or live in an environment where things would be calm for a few days and then BAM something crazy and unexpected happens, then this pattern of “calm before the storm” becomes in grained in your psyche. When the calm days come, you begin to expect the impending explosion. As I said, the anticipation of something like that happening (whether it truly is coming or not) can be unbearable.

Even though this person is not in that type of environment anymore, they may blow up their job to ease the anticipation. I mean figuratively here. As in, the person may do something to cause them to lose their job. Typically, said person already has a scapegoat lined up to blame the events on---other than themselves.

Or, they may create drama in their primary relationships. They could start needless arguments with their significant other. They might become belligerent with their parents. They might stir up gossip or controversy among their friends.

Creating these little dramas eases some of the anticipation of waiting for something to happen since they know it inevitably will. What it does (besides foster a sense of relief or release) is give them a small sense of control over their environment.

But, I've learned that the greater sense of control comes over that which you foster within yourself. I control how I feel and when I feel it. I don't have to be nervous when things are going smoothly. I can actually enjoy that they are going smoothly. If the other shoe drops, I will deal with it when and if it happens. And, a year or so from now, I really won't mourn the missed opportunity of self-implosion. Instead, I will be happy that I cruised right along chopping the wood and carrying the water while conserving the rest of my energy for things I actually enjoy.

I spoke with someone this past week who has this very habit. It typically manifests in her relationships. She grew up in a very changeable and sometimes volatile environment. So, when a relationship is going well she gets all freaky and starts doing things to shake it up. Of course, this was not her fault. It was always the other person's fault. But, I think once I told her that she had the ability to steer the direction of what was going on she was a bit surprised.

Of course, you aren't going to realize something like this if you never realize that you are accountable for what is happening in your life in the first place.

Yes, I realize that takes some of the fun (ie: adrenaline rush, reward of attention seeking behavior, emotional turmoil to discuss amongst your friends) out of it. But, in the long run, you are going to enjoy still having those relationships, if you don't explode them, more than sitting around alone on your couch on a Saturday night remembering how things just sort of crumbled.

The ability to make sense of what goes on around you comes when you realize what part you play in it. The control over your environment comes when you control your interaction with it. The freedom is born when you stop letting past experience dictate how you live the rest of your life. Learn from it. Figure out where you want to go from here and what you want to change. Then, chop wood and carry water. Love the routine (while you can) and the rewards it brings.