Proceeding according to precedent

One result of my blogging routine that I particularly enjoy is writing in my head all the time. Not that I didn’t do that before, but that I have a place and a purpose (however slender) for these compositions.

Tuesday, when I woke within the morning but too early, after having gone to bed ‘way too late the night before, I stretched in bed and considered skipping class. More sleep! More sleep! And there are many in my class who choose to be other places; there are no quid pro quo-type repercussions, only metaphysical ones. But then my other self pipes up, “No, really. What else are you going to do, instead of learning?” And with that, I started writing this post.

 

Good news: I think I’ve absorbed the lessons of a “procession of vagaries.” And it didn’t even take a whole year! My ultimate realization within my fully self-directed schedule is that it’s a lot like a self-directed (adult) diet: you could eat all Oreos every day, but you’d eventually feel horrible, and feeling horrible is worse than unlimited Oreos. Doing whatever you want doesn’t end up including sloth*, because sloth feels horrible and you don’t want horrible. There’s more doing-ness that fits around that, providing the scaffold on which to hang purpose and activity, but there’s where the big “why” sits. Where the feelings are behind the “why not?” that keep me acting.

C, my colleague in art, told me a parallel tale during our accountability time the same day. Her realization has been that the incremental strategies that served her well in corporate life could—and do—serve her well at home. Rather than pool up a bunch of related maintaining-type tasks and do them in a big group, she now strives to do a few and a few and a few, as she reminds herself that considering and postponing the task takes nearly as much time as simply doing it in the first place. Or, “You’re already standing here, you might as well turn the compost.” After all, it’s not as if turning the compost later means that compost-turning is permanently completed. Like much of house-manage, it needs to be done now, and later, and after that. I get the sense her big “why” has become that a trickling brook of tasks is more pleasant than intermittent flooding.

Besides, what else were you going to do?

 


Three-toed sloth photo courtesy WWF*I like leveraging the eight bad practices set down by the desert mothers and fathers, but I feel sad about “sloth.” Sloths were my favorite creatures when I was starting school—I let walruses go somewhere between age 3 and 5. But I don’t know a more effective word for that bad practice! So here is my compensatory good sloth. Plus you can also see my sloth-buddy, who lives in the lobby of the University of Georgia Science Library, where my mom worked.

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