Tomorrow is January 1st and the start of a brand spanking new year. Some people make resolutions of one sort of the other. I have yet to decide if I will make a resolution to deal with the title of this blog. I keep getting in my own way. It’s as if I stick one leg out in front of the other purposely to trip myself. Frankly I think I’ve done this for a long long time.
When visiting friends years ago he was remarking how when they had visitors and there were immediate tasks at hand she would decide to “dust the wheels on the fridge” instead. In other words she would take on tasks not directly related, or on the ‘critical path’ as project managers would say, to getting ready for visitors.
Is this something you do? There is some large task or issue sitting there in your mind. It is something you must tackle or manage but instead these other non-critical, unrelated maybe irrelevant tasks jump out in front and you say to yourself “Hey, let’s do that instead!”
If you observe your behaviour somewhat dispassionately and from a distance, then perhaps you can take steps leading to improvement. I know, for example, if I am going on a trip, particularly a trip that involves air travel instead of packing I will undertake tasks that should have been completed months before. I will go renew my library card, those batteries get taken to the depot to recycle and I tackle that far corner of messy stuff in the basement. Meanwhile the packing time grows shorter and shorter.
These past few weeks I’ve been getting in my own way a great deal. We were having a lovely party about a month ago and would be blessed with family coming to stay with us. Instead of making beds and setting out towels, buying groceries and doing some cooking, I decided it was crucial to re-finish the front hall bench. The bench was picked up at a neighbourhood garage sale and has been sitting in the front hall with its original look for 8 years and now I decide to re-finish it. And I either can’t or won’t stop myself.
I get the bench done and decide instead of getting the house ready and such, well I decide to make marmalade and chutney. Marmalade and chutney??? Why do I need to make marmalade and chutney right now? But I do just that as the time for guests draws nigh. Even as I’m doing it I know I should direct my attention elsewhere.
And then this week I decided I need to untangle some chunks of yarn that have, as yet, no useful purpose. They may never end up being incorporated into a project but I sat down and put in a good 2 to 3 hours untangling that yarn. I’ll spare you a picture of untangled yarn.
Amongst the many sayings our mother ingrained in us was “everybody has to have a purpose”. And like all her sayings, there’s truth to it. Perhaps I’m expecting too much. Not everything you do has a great or higher purpose. Most of us will never receive Nobel Prize, be awarded the Order of Canada or Citizen of the Year or find that every task we undertake is of great import.
One way of looking at it is family coming to stay was an impetus to re-finish a bench that might otherwise stay in its original state. While we never got to sending Christmas greetings this year, the marmalade and chutney were nice gifts from the kitchen and that yarn might never be used but it gives me satisfaction not to see it sitting in a tangled mess. Maybe it’s more about giving oneself a (sometimes misguided) sense of purpose in the smallest of tasks.
For example, writing this blog this morning, has questionable purpose. I haven’t been blogging much lately and no one is clambering to read bits of wisdom from this keyboard. But I’ve done it anyway.
I think I’ve just talked myself out of one potential New Year’s Resolution.
Tell me, do you get in your own way?