The Next Right Thing

I’ve been thinking about Frozen 2 quite a lot lately. No one wants to admit this less than I do. I hated Frozen 1. Olaf was the only thing worth watching and even he could not save that movie for me. But the second one had some merit.

There is a scene in the second half of the movie where Anna is separated from Elsa, who has serious issues, for the 27th time. She feels hopeless and isolated and inadequate. But luckily, she has a fabulous voice and can write songs on the fly. So she belts out a little tune called, “The Next Right Thing.”

I’ve seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb
I follow you around, I always have
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don’t know anymore what is true
I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
The only star that guided me was you
How to rise from the floor?
But it’s not you I’m rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right.

I’ve heard the expression, “Just do the next thing,” and have, to some degree, lived by it. Sometimes life is too big. Too dark. Too intense. And when we try to take on the big picture and make sense of it, it can be too much. After my mother died, her dear friend said to me, “How do you eat at elephant? One bite at a time.” I don’t eat elephants and I didn’t turn her into the ASPCA for cruelty to elephants. I took it metaphorically and have had it hanging in an accessible place for 2 years now.

Do the next thing is good. But it’s not the same as do the next RIGHT thing. You can eat the elephant one bite at a time, but does the elephant need to be eaten? Is that the next right thing? Sometimes it is. When it is, take it a bite at a time. But sometimes there’s a little more to it than that. And that’s what I’ve been chewing on for weeks now.

I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing

Anna was struggling with the grief of silly animation. I struggle with an array of different obstacles and the tangle of emotions that come with each, some sillier than others. In those moments, under those obstacles, I sometimes allow the emotion to sit down on me and keep me from moving forward and producing. But when I push aside the heap of clutter I don’t need and focus on the next right thing, the answer is clear. The next right thing is almost always clear.

Figuring out the next right thing is assumed within the lines of the song. But it’s that other component that really trips me up. Do the next right thing.

Today I embark upon a New Year. Not a new me, exactly. There is no word of the year or unattainable list of pounds to lose or wisdom to gain. I’ve been there and failed at that. I’ll keep plugging at the same things I was plugging at before.

For me, for now, there are only two questions:

What’s the next right thing?
and
Am I willing to do it?

Happy New Year, friends.


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