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March 17, 2015 / Karen R Adams

the one thing you need to do

me 2004 2‘The one thing you need to do.’  Don’t you just love statements like that? ‘Here are the 59 things to do so you can save the world.’

Apparently, giving your information a title like that works as advertising.  I’m beginning to find it annoying – annoying, but effective.  It’s not the numbers so much as the actual subject that will draw me in.  (Although I did see one the other day that was something like the one I quoted above.  While I’d really like to be personally responsible for saving the world, ’59 things’ turned that concept into a joke.  Anybody can come up with 59 things, not going to be anything new in that list.)

Still, we seem to like bullet points, synopses, something where someone else has done the work and summed it up for us.  Which makes sense, given the enormous amount of information we have access to (whether we want it or not).  ‘The 9 signs of a deficiency in X nutrient’.  ‘The 5 signs of heart disease you must know’.  ‘The 6 things you need to do to follow your exercise plan’.   These are steps to a goal – to understanding a new idea, or achieving a desired result.  They are a map.  They are the manual I’m always looking for that helps me figure out just what the hell I’m doing, because heaven knows I’m working blind here.

When I held my babies for the first time, all the love and awe and joy I felt carried a slight overlay of panic.  Where was the operator’s manual?  Directions, I needed directions – as in Step 1: Don’t Panic.  Step 2: Here’s How Not to Panic (really needed that one).   Slight overlay?  Did I say ‘slight’?  Oh, man…

When I got married, when I got a new job, when I got divorced, when I shepherded my family through a decade of trauma and courts and trials and recovery, when I left the country to live abroad – there was never a fucking manual.   That’s sloppy, inefficient, terrifying, messy.  How was I supposed to do these things well when I had no idea what I was doing?  How could I do them so that none of us ended up in a lifetime relationship with a therapist, paying for his or her college education?  Everybody else was doing these things, did they get the manuals?  How did they know that honey on the pacifier of a one month old was risky at best?  Who told them this stuff?  If I was in charge, you would be handed an operating manual for every child, every relationship, every damn thing, and if that wasn’t enough you could find a manual on every life step and check it out of the library, or read it on Facebook.


Well.  I guess you just have to know where to look.

So here’s my one thing: Take one step at a time and relax.  Nobody knows what they’re doing, we’re all making it up.  We work hard to learn how to function in life, and many, many of us are happy to pass that knowledge on.  It’s truly wonderful how easy it is to get information through the internet (and I can guarantee there’s a Youtube video on this.  Or an app…).  Don’t forget to ask you neighbor for tips, especially the one that’s old enough to have survived teenagers.  Flying without a net (read ‘manual’) is terrifying, sure, but it is also epic, liberating, all-about-expansion – and all yours.  It’s your life, and no one will do it like you do it because no one is you.  You’ll have help any time you ask for it, so write your own manual.  (I reckon, if you distil it to bullet points, you’ll have a Facebook following in no time.)

between heaven and earth


Karen is an acupuncturist in Greenfield, MA.  She has a Facebook page where she likes to philosophize, comment on and pass on the things she’s learned (which practically makes her an old fart, she thinks with chagrin).  You can visit her on Facebook, or on her website:  If you’d like to speak with her, use the form below.  She promises to get back to you – and expects she will really, really enjoy meeting you.


Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Mar 17 2015 9:20 pm

    As you say so well : We’re all making this up. AND we’re making it ALL up. Blessings to you dear one. Mary Tower

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Karen R Adams / Mar 17 2015 10:06 pm

      thanks, Mary! and aren’t you clever to get that *all* up! whooeee!

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