Dr. Terry A. Gordon

the wounded healer

How To Overcome Feelings Of Being Overwhelmed

I can answer that question with a simple K-I-S-S. During the winter, I witnessed what appeared to be a miracle. At first light, I looked out onto the lake in back of our home and saw our swans walking on water! I thought to myself, wow, they must have experienced some sort of epiphany through the night as just yesterday they were paddling around the lake like normal birds.

When the gray skies brightened a bit, I realized the optical “delusion” of the miracle. Through the frigid night, nature had deposited a thin icy layer on part of the surface of our lake, a layer so smooth that it appeared to be fluid. The swans were actually walking on thin ice. How natural they looked as they waddled across the silvery surface. As I pondered their feat, I acknowledged that I too have been walking on thin ice these past several months. I don’t believe that I have pulled off the balancing act as well as the swans appeared to be doing on this crisp autumn morning.

As more daylight appeared, I could distinguish the lines of separation between ice and water. The lines of demarcation were S-shaped, six of them to be exact. Some were large, others smaller. I meditated on the S’s. What was the lesson this consonant was trying to teach me?

The reason there were six S’s was obvious. There are six members in our immediate family. I made the “S” sound over and over again. Their meaning slowly came to me.

The accumulating weight of responsibilities in life, whether work-related, financial or relational can be a formidable and overwhelming challenge. We may be forever walking on thin ice in a futile attempt to manage. If the burden becomes too heavy, the thin surface fractures and we lose our footing. For some, the burden falls from their backs allowing them to be rescued from the frigid waters. For others, bound tightly to their baggage, the weight drags them under as they sink deeper into the cold darkness below the icy surface.

Meditating on the S’s, what came to mind was K I S S. It was not the band or the touching of lips. It was just the letters K – I – S – S.

Then it hit me. Years ago my good friend, Don Karas, a colleague at The Heart Group, made an insightful observation. Every year he, Tyler, and I would put together a band for “Docs Who Rock”, a United Way fundraiser. Each year the presentation became more grandiose and extravagant. We performed some crazy antics! When things got too wild, Don would implore me to “K-I -S-S”. No, he wasn’t coming onto me; he was merely suggesting for me to Keep It Simple, Stupid. And he was right. The more complicated our presentation, the less successful it became.

Hence the lesson of the S’s etched in the thin ice. Keep life simple. Despite the fact that challenges may appear to be very complicated, in truth they are not. By keeping it simple, living one day at a time, tackling one problem at a time, distilling things down to the basics, we can meet those seemingly overwhelming challenges with greater success.

As Winston Churchill once shared: “Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.”

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