Last night I was stumped. The New York Times crossword puzzle I had been working on was mostly solved except for a couple of pesky sections. I had been at it for three nights in a row. Finally, I knew what I had to do. I had to be ruthless. I needed to erase every answer that I wasn’t absolutely sure of. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. But the “maybe” correct answers were giving me a false sense of accomplishment as the number of empty cells diminished. In reality, these “maybe” correct answers were clouding my vision. Clearly, something was off and not working; otherwise I would have been able to finish the puzzle. I needed to be on firm ground once again and I could only get there by eliminating everything that wasn’t truly trustworthy. All those educated guesses needed to be gone. So out came my eraser. And then an amazing thing happened…with the distraction of the unreliable answers gone, I was able to see the way forward easily, almost effortlessly, and I completed the puzzle in no time.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been slowly creating a new life for myself. I’ve been careful and thoughtful as I chose a new profession, found new jobs, made new friends and experimented with what wellness looks like for me. I made sure each step was sure and true. But creating an authentic life is an art, not a science. And to make matters worse, I continue to grow and change. (Now who’s being pesky?!) So pieces that once felt right, currently feel less so. Perhaps not totally wrong, but, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “if it’s not right, it’s wrong.” It dawns on me that it might be time to apply an eraser to portions of this new life I’ve created. The new, better answers I’m looking for might not come as easily as the crossword puzzle answers did, but eliminating the “maybe” correct parts of my life feels like the right place to begin.