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Closing the loop

I don’t like open loops. Things left undone. Songs left unfinished. Jokes interrupted before the punch line. My mind keeps chewing on them. It’s that broken record that repeats and repeats the same line over and over and over. Finish already!

I’m told this a normal thing. To want to bring something to completion. Our minds crave this. In fact they do it on their own. Supposedly, it’s the remedy for that Beatles song that is stuck in your head mid-phrase. Apparently, we humans tend to add our own endings or fill in our own details – even when they’re not accurate or not offered. Even if we don’t know the words.

We need to have a complete story.

But I have been troubled recently by a trend I see. It’s the “let’s just not worry about closing the loop.” No RSVP. No return phone call. A question asked that no one answers. Okay, call me odd, but I actually feel compelled to answer. Unless prevented by an extreme circumstance, I absolutely RSVP even it’s “no thanks.” I respond to the email. I tell you if I can’t show up or just don’t want to. My friend Mary Lou taught me this very helpful phrase, “Thank you for thinking of me, but that’s not my opportunity.”

I find people appreciate this, perhaps because so many loops remain open out there. We are forced to presume it’s a “no” when people don’t respond. Maybe they are just uncomfortable saying no. I get that. Me too.

But lately I have been picturing that open loop. A wedding band not yet united, the rope not yet knotted, the thread pulled lose and not secured. Things yet to be done wait for me. They keep pestering me to finish them off. I’m not sure I ever realized just quite how much power they were exerting on me. I tried to dismiss them, put them off, or just pretend that it didn’t matter to me whether the loops were closed or not.

But it does.

Why? I think part of it is that Beatles song phenomenon. So much mental and emotional energy invested in the continuous unproductive loop. But there’s more. God wants me to decide what to do. To make a decision yay or nay. It may even be more important that I make a decision than exactly what my decision is. Because once I respond, I close that irritating loop and can move onto the next one clamoring for attention.

Yes, I hate to say no. But the freedom I feel to say yes makes it worth it. ‘No response’ has left me in limbo for such a long time. Perhaps those non-RSVPers don’t experience the limbo. Maybe they can just write it off and never give it a second thought. Not me. I’m meant to close loops.

And I say loops plural, because part of what had been hanging me up was the notion that I had been only assigned one. One story to tell but to tell it perfectly. Nope. As I put the last period on the last sentence and send it off to the editor, I am not even done with my ahhh when the next loop opens.

That God. Do you suppose He has been sitting there the whole time, tapping His foot and looking at His watch? Maybe. I am grateful for His eternal patience. My goodness, am I ever.

And I guess I should stop complaining about all the loops in my life and start giving thanks for them. What a privilege it is to be one of those people that just has to make the connection in everything. I am a storyteller after all.

And when I just don’t see the connection, I trust there is an end to the story I can’t yet see. Because the Greatest Storyteller of All brings us all to completion, from start to finish. It’s a promise.

Writing it up wraps it up

  • You make the hypothesis,
  • design the experiment to test the hypothesis,
  • do the experiment,
  • make observations,
  • record them,
  • evaluate your results
  • and draw conclusions.

Oh yes. Then you write it up.

And if you’re DaVinci, father of experimental design, you write it on any scrap of paper handy, forward or backward, left-handed.

Well, I am no DaVinci, but I am extremely indebted to him for recording his experimentations. Because he has allowed even us average people to follow his process. That’s the thing about writing it down: it allows you to share it, verbatim, and these days with lots and lots of people at the click of a button.

I remember hating doing write ups in science lab when I was in school. There was so much detail to be attended to. You had to have just the right format, the right dependent and independent variables, the right units on your axes. For crying out loud, why not just tell people what you did? All they wanted to know was your conclusion, anyway. Right?

Wrong. Because it isn’t the work of science to conclude. It’s the work of science to discover. And then to test the discovery to see if it can be repeated, to determine if the conclusion is valid and then can be applied to the next inquiry. Science is just a process. Writing it up allows us to share it. Until it is written, it is incomplete.

That’s what my teachers’ grade book said and I still find it so today. Whatever discovering experience I have is incomplete until I write it up. Even the interesting ones that leave me scratching my head feel completed when I write them. Often, because doing so results in discovery. I wonder if I am just living my life according to scientific process.

I guess, in this light, it’s not that unusual that a scientist has become a writer. It just seems so much more valuable to share what we find rather than keep it to ourselves.

I read this morning,

We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

~ 1 John 1:3

Sounds a lot like scientific process. And then,

“We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:4)

Aha! The Bible writers had to do write ups too! But for them it completed the joy. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to write. It just wraps things up. Then, of course, it makes the perfect Gift.

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