I’ve just come back from a meeting of the charity trustees I work with, trying to set up a community chaplaincy project in South London. This has been an interesting venture for me. I was invited to get involved, and initially did so because I thought it might mean some CV points. I bring my own point of view to the objectives but I buy into them enough that I was prepared to give it a shot.
The work has not always been easy, and I’ve had moments of thinking I might quit. But today we had a big fillip – some news that we had secured most of the remaining shortfall in funding to keep us going over three years. I wrote the application and others held the meetings. Good teamwork, and as we said this evening, the hill is now crested in terms of getting the project up and running. It has taken a year, but with a couple of loose ends to tie, we can soon start writing job advertisements and looking for the employee and the office equipment all this money is going to pay for. Achievements – things you have worked for – are the pros of being involved in a venture.
But when you have brought a form of life or order into the world, you start to realise the cons. There are no laurels to rest on. Achievements bring more work. And no sooner had we enjoyed our mulled wine and mince pies to celebrate the news (which arrived in today’s post, with perfect timing) than we were down to a frank and somewhat tetchy discussion of what had to be done next. This had the following flavour: “Oh God. What have we done? Now we have to do that! Who’s going to do that? When are we going to do that by? JUST HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THAT?!”
In the end, all will be well. When there are committed people, a will to get things done, and experience in place, things will get done and entropy will be held at bay. But things that you create aren’t only achievements; they are responsibilities and sources of work and (occasionally) irritation too. The fact that a problem solved merely brings another problem is what makes it worth solving. Achievements are only worth it if they are hard-won and temporary.