“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
~ Lord Chesterfield
In theory, I completely concur with Lord Chesterfield. In practice, however, I’ve been known to occasionally follow Scarlett O’Hara’s logic (from Gone with the Wind): “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow …… After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Putting things off until tomorrow — or, as I like to call it, The Mañana Syndrome …. has been a challenge for me throughout my life — not because I’m lazy, but because I always have so many concurrent projects and so many lists-upon-lists-upon-lists, that it becomes overwhelming sometimes. And then I completely detach. But, something changed for me last summer. It wasn’t any specific event or drama. I was just sitting at my computer, with Janis Joplin rasping in the background. The song was Ball and Chain and the lyrics that spoke to me were:
“That’s what it is, man. If you got it today you don’t wear it tomorrow, man. ‘Cause you don’t need it. ‘Cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered on the train, tomorrow never happens, man. It’s all the same fxxxxxx day, man.”
And, right there and then, I thought to myself “What if tomorrow never happens?” I would not want to leave this world without having done the things I needed and wanted to do. Now, I know that I’m taking the meaning of Janis’ lyrics out of context … but it just triggered something in my head. So, then I thought “How can I complete what I need to complete?” And the answers came to me in short staccato words and phrases: You’re not Superwoman. Be reasonable. Prioritize. Compartmentalize. Streamline. Keep it simple. Stop writing lists. Take a breath.
Let’s be real, here. This is not a Mensa puzzle. I just needed to tweak my thinking and my process of multitasking. And so I did.
It worked. My book, Casualties of the Recession Depression, is written and currently in the editing phase. The launch is set for the 26th of February, barring any glitches. And, I’ll soon pick up where I left off on my next book, When the Child Becomes the Parent. Everything is on track and on schedule.
Yet, each day I make time to read a book while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of my garden.
Speaking of thought processes, I’ll leave you with another very loosely related anecdote. One evening, my husband and I were gazing up at the stars. I asked him “What do you see when you look up in the sky?” He looked at me quizzically and said “Well, there’s Orion’s Belt ….” He saw the starry sky in a structured, compartmentalized way. I said, “When I look up, I see a sea of stars in an endless array of different sizes and formations …. too many to count, or even discern. I just love to soak in the beauty of it all.” And so I wondered whether the stark difference in the way we saw the night sky was a function of gender (i.e. ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’) or was it simply that our personalities are such that he see things in black and white and I, in every shade of grey in between.
Which is why I tended (note the past tense) to bite off more than I could chew.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
~ Mother Teresa
Image via donnamoderna.com (Photo credit: Inga Ivanova)