Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Life in Five Easy Columns...

In trying so hard to find some organization and to simplify my life, I may have gone a bit overboard.

November, and I'm at my desk feeling really out of sorts. Bad things had just happened at work and now I found myself viewing my life through a very different lens. Things seemed complicated and mired. Guilt lurked behind every facet of my life, waiting to pounce if my analytical gaze lingered too long.

I should get more exercise.

I should take control of my career.

I should spend more quality time with my wife and kids, and find something to do with each one separately.

I should take writing more seriously.

I should be nicer to the planet.

And so, in a fit of inspiration and absolutely-for-sure-well-intentioned organization, I put together a spreadsheet. So simple, so innocent. My simple plan: The first column consisted of every day of the year. Then, one column for each of the things I wanted to be better at. How pure! How perfectly easy! Everyone should do this! Ah, the praise and positivity I showered upon myself.

Of course, little did I know a grey smudge lay hidden behind each of my brilliant and shiny good intentions.

For the first 6 weeks, I did a decent job of evaluating the spreadsheet every day. I kept up, every morning I looked for columns in which I had not dutifully placed an X and then concentrated on finding a way to check that box off for that day.

And then, realization struck me. I got an email from a relative -- merely a "Hi, just checking in." email. Certainly nothing wrong, nothing alarming. But then I realized that in my haste to make a list, I had reduced my life to a set of columns in a freaking spreadsheet. I didn't have a column for "Back East Relatives."

Frantic, I wondered, "What else is missing?"

Here's a short list:

My best friend, my parents, me, the neighbors, the house, my coworkers, pets...

And there's more. Lots more, I'm sure.

It was easy, too easy, to reduce the complications of life into a set of boxes to be checked. I found ways to game the system immediately -- "I'll take the kids for a long walk, and it will count as exercise and spending time with them!" I replaced the intention of the list with execution.

So, Greg, sorry for the ignoring. Refuge? On me?

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to downplay the "I really don't/didn't feel overly'ignored'" angle since pastrami, delerium tremens and badgerpendousness is on the table. Refuge ho!