or in other words: great things are accomplished in small steps. [I came across this phrase today in a webinar. I had to steal it.]

Name me one thing that was created in one step, one thing good that is. Consider space shuttles, computers, drip coffee machines, hunting rifles, automobiles, and the list goes on. Everything manmade we appreciate as having some value, has taken the combined effort of many attempts.

I am discovering this is especially true for writing a novel. How many passes have I made so far? How close am I? How many more two hour edit sessions will it take? Let’s be honest here, not even Stephen King can sit down and write a good story in one pass.

My diabetes management is another example of a regimen that has taken decades to improve to where I have hope. I see so many newly diagnosed patients in tears — probably, I can’t yet see them through my computer — because they cannot see beyond the ring of big, scary trees surrounding them. All they need to do is latch on to a friendly passerby and let them lead the way.

It’s okay to be a follower, for a while. Eventually we need to step up on our own and find our own paths through the trees. And when you think about it, that person taking us by the hand usually doesn’t pull very hard. They somehow have a way of pushing more than pulling. Before we know it, we’re trying one path, then another path, then another, and finally we see some light. We turn and say thanks, but the ghost is gone. Was he ever there?

Yesterday I made a very small but signficant step forward in my writing. I used a copy-holder to hold my draft up where I could see it easier. Instead of laying it flat on my table and having to constantly pick it up to examine my red scratchings, I can now simply turn my head and read it. It may sound trivial, but it has eased my load significantly. I’m no longer presented with this burdensome little task that tends to offer more temptation to get up than it does anything else. My productivity improved.

“Why didn’t you do this before?”

“If you ever get to read my novel, you will understand.”

Writing consumes you. Simple things like making decisions no longer come easy. I think I’m understanding the wayward, pensive mind of a stereotypical writer.

Acknowledging this process lifts my spirits and raises my confidence while at the same time creating stress. How does any writer ever get anything done? I never said big things can’t be thought of early on, though. I only said we don’t get there in one giant leap. I am trying to keep one eye on the big picture, the finished product while focusing on that one step I need to complete next. Right now I’m looking at pages 115 and 116, several red circles and lines, and a bunch of scribbles. Making all that mess go away is my next step. I have no doubt about using up several red pens over the next couple of months.

And I hate dirty laundry.

Sorry, I can’t stop here. I completely forgot the whole reason I started writing this piece: politics. I think one of the failures of western civilization is our belief in big decisions.

Let’s take Obamacare. Is it the best? Is it a failure? Should it be improved? Can it be? Will it be? I’m afraid the answer to the last question is an emphatic no, and for many reasons. How many governmental failures have we witnessed over the decades? Is Social Security a leading edge program? Should it have been legislated and managed differently?

I don’t know the answer to our political problems, but I really feel we need to do a better job at holding the hands of our big programs. We really do need to be able to change them to meet the world’s changing environment and demands. Our food systems are a mess. They are embedded in stone: billions upon billions of dollars invested in an unsustainable, unhealthy infrastructure. We haven’t moved forward; we’ve only moved backward. Our health care expenses are now at 16% of GDP and growing. One white elephant leaning on another.

Regardless of which side of the knife you live on, we need to be agile. Absolutes are wrong. Nobody knows the answers. We have to try, fail, pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and try again.

That’s the only way mountains are climbed.