Just Move One Piece
By Erica Zelfand

Sew a button back onto an old shirt, donate a box of old clothes you never wear, trim your fingernails, tune the guitar.

These are the little things we can do to start waking ourselves up, to start building momentum. To let our own selves know that everything isn’t so rigidly fixed in place. To prove that we are not stuck.

Call the guy. Go for a walk. Stand up on a chair and look at the room. Tuck your shirt in to your pants, or untuck it, just for today, to see how it suits you. Look up the definition of that word you’re pretty sure you’ve been misusing for the last year.

Just make a move, any move.

Change begins with one step, and that step can be a small one, in any direction, really. It can be a whimsical sashay, or a bold stomp. But take it. Especially if you feel stuck, lost, or bored.

Like a sliding puzzle, the moves we make don’t always look like immediate paths to happiness, success, health, or freedom.

What does sliding around a few blocks on a frame do? Well, if you stick with it, it eventually yields a photo of a pretty ladybug, dinosaur, sunset, or who-knows-what. It generates clarity. And you might just have some fun in the process.

So slide some things around. Rearrange the furniture. Heck, get rid of the furniture. Or paint it purple.

It doesn’t have to make sense.

Sell the equipment you once needed to run the business you closed last year. Delete the number of the toxic person you know you should never call ever again. Deactivate your social media account. Buy some chalk and draw on the sidewalk – especially if you’re normally too serious or too busy to do that kind of thing.

If it feels like the road ahead is too long, if it seems that the obstacles between you and the life you want are too many, if the journey from point A to point B feels too hard: don’t just sit there and feel overwhelmed. Do something. Anything.

Pick up the pruning shears. Make a quiche. Return that overdue library book. Unplug the WiFi router.

It doesn’t matter if the step has nothing to do with fixing any of your problems. It’s okay if cleaning out the shed doesn’t solve the problem of how to pay the bills. Do something to stir up the energy, for no particular reason. If it serves no practical purpose, that’s not a problem. That’s probably a good thing, actually.

As any good designer will tell you, you almost never want to go with your first idea. The goal is to get as many good ideas flowing as possible, even the “crazy” ones.

Movement lets the brain explore things from new angles. It creates room for more of the good to find us. It generates the momentum we need to try other things, and eventually get unstuck.

Don’t announce to the world that you’re doing anything, don’t ask for permission or approval. Don’t expect a chorus of applause from your friends – nor an echo chamber of disapproval from your tormentors. Just make a shift, big or small.

Life is not linear. Neither is healing. Ditto for growth.

So try new things. Engage. Shift around the pieces. And then notice how you feel.

Rinse, and repeat.