What Is Just One Thing?




Nearly every day I read something online, in a blog, in print, or in a book about the epidemic of busyness and exhaustion so many seem to be facing. News media often will include a segment on these issues as well. All of them offer good data and invariably there will be a lot of ways to combat the problem. Most of them offer very good solutions, but can easily feel like another “to do” list that can sometimes create stress. Some of them can create guilt because I am usually found to be guilty of creating the problem. Ugh!!!


The result for me is that often I don’t want to read another article on the subject, even if it is good. I can feel that way about any topic that seems to be the current hot topic. Maybe that’s just me, but perhaps some of you might feel that way as well if you have been reading and trying to do lists of good solutions offered on the topic.


Sometimes even if we find the solutions helpful, there is something missing either because the ultimate source of the problem has not been addressed or the answer is something hiding in plain sight.


A few nights ago my husband and I watched a movie we have loved, but not viewed in quite awhile. It along with some of these recent articles have stirred my thinking and resulted in some reflections I want to share with you over the next few posts.


What’s the movie? City Slickers. It was released in 1991 and includes a great cast headed up with Billy Crystal. Many of you may have seen it and if you haven’t, you might enjoy it.


To set the stage for the reflections I will be sharing, let me tell you a bit about the theme of City Slickers. Every year, three male friends take a vacation away from their wives for an adventure that gives them a fantasy experience that is supposed to rid them of the doldrums, frustration, exhaustion, and busyness of their lives. One of these, Ed, can be very creative. One of his ideas has them running with the bulls with Mitch (Billy Crystal) getting gored by one of the bulls in the process.


Billy Crystal’s character is now turning 39 and is experiencing all the stereotypical things that go with it. His wife sees him as depressed and feels frustrated about how to help him when nothing has worked to bring him back his smile. She registers concern for what is happening with him in his job, with their marriage, and most every aspect of his life. No solution has worked in recent years to relieve the hectic pace, the busyness, and the resulting depressive symptoms.


At his 39th birthday party, Crystal’s friend Ed brings another suggestion, convinced that it will work. He and his third friend, Phil, have planned a two week cattle drive trip out west where the city guys will be transformed into cowboys and drive cattle to Colorado. Crystal is not impressed with the idea and has a family vacation planned, but his wife insists and tells him to “Go. I want you to find your smile.”


The movie is full of funny scenes and lines as the “city slickers” learn to ride and rope and before long they head out on the great adventure with little confidence on Crystal’s part that this will be something they can do.


The trail boss is someone called Curly played by the leathery-faced Jack Palance. Palance may be old and a cowboy, but he recognizes more than any of these newbies might guess.


Crystal gets in trouble several times with Palance as they get started on the drive and at one point is forced to look for strays with Palance alone. Crystal shudders as he rides off behind Palance, but on the trek Palance holds up one of his index fingers when several situations come up. Crystal gets curious about what he means.IMG_1994


Palance tells him that the secret of life is one thing, just one thing you can stick to. Crystal asks what that is and Palance tells him, “You’ve got to figure out what that is.” That puzzles Crystal and it doesn’t bring back his smile.


Not long after that what was to be a fun adventure turns deadly serious when the “city slickers” end up being left with the responsibility to bring the herd in alone. They have no idea how to do this or exactly the route and face many challenges along the way. But in the process, each man faces his fears, gains courage in learning more about themselves and what is really important.


Crystal learns the “one thing” for him and returns home to his family complete with his smile.


The theme music is a song by James Ingram entitled “Where Did My Heart Go?”. The first lines of the song are “Where did my heart go, When did it lose the way….”


I think the story that unfolds in the movie and the words of the song reveal something the lists and ideas I’ve been reading have missed about the problem of busyness and exhaustion plaguing us.


Many of us have lost our hearts. That leads us to two things: 1) losing our hearts has propelled us into busyness, or 2) sometimes our busyness has caused our heart to be lost.


Please join me over the next few posts as we look at this with “a new lens” and see what we might discover about how our divided hearts reveal the problem we are often missing.



27 thoughts on “What Is Just One Thing?

  1. Hi – I’m new to your blog and stopping by from a link up somewhere. Great post. I tend to keep my life as unstressed, quiet and relaxed as I can as stress triggers my Fibro. There is nothing like getting knocked off your feet to realized the value of a quiet unsurpassed life. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Tina! I smiled when I saw your comment. I can sometimes forget which linkup I was on when I connected with someone. You’re so right about how getting upended by something that doesn’t allow us to continue at a certain pace changes so much and often our perspective is one of the big changes. So glad you stopped by and I hope we connect again.

  2. I’m fascinated by the subject of busyness, probably because I’ve been there, done that … and now in this season am fairly free of the craziness I once embraced, even as a ministry leader.

    Looking forward to your discussion, Pam. As ever …

    1. Thanks, Linda! From the amount being written on the subject it would appear most of us have. I’m with you in the new season and I also find that the word “busy” and “busyness” is a trigger of what it seems to suggest these days so hence the series. I hope you will enjoy the other posts that continue today. Love to you, my friend

  3. This sounds like an important series. Busyness does seem to be an epidemic and is too often regarded as something to be proud of, but it’s easy to be so busy we miss what’s really important.

    1. So true, Lesley! I hope you will join me for the rest of the series. Not sure yet how many posts, but as of this afternoon there are three more and I am pretty certain of two more to take us where I think the Lord wants me to go! I so appreciate your response to this first one!

  4. I try to avoid that word ‘busy.’ I’ve been searching for a replacement as it is like people want to hear I’ve been ‘busy’ because it somehow coincides with happiness maybe? I think, yes, in the busyness the ‘why’ of the heart is lost, and then get lost on the road. Looks like a great series! Thanks for following God’s steps for you.

    1. I so hear you, Lynn! I think it seems to also connote to some people that you are “important” because you have a lot to do or people need you. I really feel frustrated when someone says to me “you’re so busy”. NO!! My life is sometimes “FULL”, but “busy” in my experience seems to connote things by one saying to me or one saying about them things I do sign on to. I appreciate your encouragement! Seems as if you and I have been on similar pages for a bit. You mentioned a book at some point recently and I forgot to write down the title. Could you share it with me again, please?

      1. Hi Pam! I think I may borrow that word ‘full’, if that is ok? The book I most likely was referring to was The Forgotten Way Meditations by Ted Dekker. It is a 21 day devotional-type of journey that also has a study guide and pod casts, with the focus on our identity in Christ. I’m on my second go around with it now, and diving into the many scripture references. And yes, your writings have definitely aligned with so much that God has placed on my path. God is good!

  5. Your post is so timely
    I read something today that set me pondering:
    To do: ect vs To be: kind, genuine, have integrity ect.

  6. This will most likely be my favorite series! I never paid attention to the theme song. Most likely due to my busyness. :-/

    1. I hope so! I want to share some powerful truths behind our busyness with some examples from life, my life, movies, and music that might help us look at this differently.

    1. Thanks, Michele! I appreciate the prayer and trust that what is evolving in my mind, heart, and spirit will indeed nudge all of us to look at how we have lost our hearts or at least pieces of them. Have a beautiful day! I so much appreciate you!

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