My significant other being in the hospitality industry means even on a Sunday in August she sets the alarm for 4 a.m. but it was a brilliant full moon last night and I haven’t really slept that much anyway. So I am awake before it goes off even though it is my day off, her day on. At the age of 15 I discovered Zen Buddhism or at least some version of it, wherein Chinese poets and practitioners such as Lao Tzu and Li Po and Nanki Poo (just kidding on that last one, I played that role in The Mikado in 6th grade) expressed their wisdom in pithy, short lines:
“How shall we spend our days, Master, when in pursuit of Enlightenment?”
The answer would come back, perhaps accompanied by a cane whack:
“CUT WOOD, CARRY WATER. ”
That admonition clearly harkens back to the days before we could just say LIGHT THE STOVE, or TURN ON THE FAUCET. My unusually crisp frame of mind is aligned to that type of phrasing this morning. In modern interpretation, Dude was saying: Take care of Essentials. Tidy up your life. Still have to live. But even that was too many words.
So I go back to one of my French masters, Voltaire, who, later mimicked by early James Gangs’ Joe Walsh, once put it like this:
Tend Your Garden.
Feeling clear-headed and decisive I got up and started making a Zen-Master List for the day at hand, allowing myself only one, non-repeatable verb, and a noun, per command. I figured part of my problem is over-thinking things in long time-wasting sentences, rather than stripping writing down to the basics. So here I went, commanding myself…. using a mere two (2) words, as opposed to three (3).
Now the Irony is this: though my lines or verse on this list are short; the list itself is overloaded with more chores than I may actually get to today. Further Irony is that I work for a real estate firm whose founder & owner has long ago penned a bestseller that helped cement his presence and prestige in our industry, and it was called, simply, THE ONE THING. I would mention his name but you can figure it out, and he doesn’t need me adding to his plaudits or adulation. The point is however– I am his exact opposite, in at least one major way, albeit I aspire to learn his mad skill of singularity of focus, someday still.
I could write a book called either THE MYRIAD THINGS, or perhaps THE FIFTY TO SIXTY-FOUR FREAKING MOST IMPORTANT THINGS….I haven’t fully decided. Or maybe I’d call it NEVER REALLY A DAY OFF. Then I would utilize that on the lecture circuit, I imagined, to delineate what most people already know and experience– that we are all pretty much loaded with lists in our minds of tasks requiring our attention and competing for specific action. We are consequently Over––Fugging-Whelmed virtually all the time, and I know this from my ardent research, having overheard two 30-something housewives discussing this matter in the condiment aisle at Hannaford yesterday. They each had very young children, apparently, which would only add to the above list exponentially. Note that I no longer had items like WIPE NOSES or CHANGE DIAPERS or FEED KIDS (x 3) on my performance list. All they talked about was has much they had to do in a day, and the seeming impossibly of accomplishing all of it. This is what they call OVERWHELM, now a noun as much as an adjective– a permanent monster in the room.
But here I am with an ostensibly full, un-scheduled day off ahead of me, and I am feeling the compunction to fill it with tasks of my own devising, only two of which (TAKE NAP, and ADMIRE LAWN, to review) were passive instead of active in some manner. It was a rare day when I did not have client OR family expectations for one blessed turn of the sun, and the emails and bills and workload could truthfully wait till Monday.
But I can justify procrastination, on the other hand, via the convenient Biblical injunction (from Genesis, which suddenly comes to mind, despite my lack of church goin’) which dictates that we the Faithful (?) should make the 7th day a day of rest, depending on when you start counting… On this articular Sunday, I wholeheartedly agree with that command. Therefore I decide after creating my list and feeling exhausted as a result to start with said last item first, and promptly went back to sleep as soon as my wife left for work. The moon had finally set and I mustered more peaceful three, almost four, hour nap after that.
So even though I went to bed early and started out with ambition, I have now slept late and the only thing I’ve accomplished other than basic hygiene and consuming pancakes and 4 cups of coffee, is finishing this manifesto, and admiring the Lawn I mowed yesterday. But the rest of the day yawns before me, so there is still time for redemption, and a few other things on my list.
And in the end if I succeed in hitting PUBLISH POST, an admonition that was not even on my list, and I will have created a new page for WAYNESWORD2, to deliver to you…. as if you have time to read it.
Postscript: This Post, though I did not know it at that exact moment it was writ, was to become the final idyllic testimonial to my family life, marriage, and existence at the home we built and shared in Middle Grove. Perhaps that is why I was trying to cram so much into that day. So many busy verbs are trying too hard. In looking back from the lens of 3 months hence, it was a mere five days later that I was compelled to leave. The notion of necessary change had been brewing for awhile and I felt I had done what I could. But on the 31st day of August, 2018… for reasons won’t go into here, I realized it was time to invoke one last 5 word phrase, in the spirit of a sad Thomas Dolby song from the mid-80s:
I Love You; Goood Bye.