Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How Not to Finish

You guys.  I seriously have no idea about this blog.  Has it turned into some kind of bi-monthly zen koan with pony pictures, now?  Should I rename it from "The Tex Files" to "Tex's Pithy Navelgazing Emo Jams?"  I don't know.  TAKE WHAT I GIVE YOU AND LIKE IT.

Okay, but seriously.  We're still less than a week past New Year's, which means y'all are all probably still freshly resolved.  Not gonna eat the donuts!  Not gonna smoke the smokes!  Not gonna finish things!

Yeah, you heard me.  See, it's like this: I spent the weekend having a nice little staycation at an Undisclosed Location, and while I was there, I did PHENOMENAL amounts of nothing.  Let me tell you, it was a rigorous, back-breaking regimen of zilch, nada, and bupkis.


Not to be confused with Blanko, Nawt, and Bupkus, et al.

Anyway, but there was a puzzle.  I did a puzzle.  Well, sort of.  It was one of those things that sounded SO FUN in my head, and I was so excited to finally do something *completely* self-indulgent and unproductive, and it was, and I did!  For about an hour, and then the next day for a couple of hours, and then a couple more.  At the end of five hours, this is all I had:

No, you don't get to see the picture. My Lisa Frank fetish is mine alone.

I know what you're thinking: "Oh Christ, please, not a puzzle metaphor." 

Nothing like that, I promise (cuz if you want heavy-handed literary analogies, you'll have to buy my books).  It could just as easily have been a ship in a bottle or a stained glass painting or a macrame dickey.  Anyway, I started to realize that finishing was going to take way longer than I thought.  And I was only there for the weekend.  And there was no way I was going to get it all done without turning idle fun into serious work, and how silly would that have been?

But here's the thing: the prospect of crumbling it up and putting it away was seriously, irrationally daunting.  Maybe this is only because - while I am a master-class partier, socializer, and all-purpose enjoyer of things - I am horribly out of practice at solitary and deliberate fun-having.  Maybe this next bit will be as massively obvious to you as... as a massively obvious thing.  I hope it is!

But I doubt I'm the only one who's forgotten how not to finish things.  And it occurs to me that all our moral programming - well, all of mine, anyway - has been geared towards Achievement, Accomplishment, Commitment.  Clean your plate.  Finish what you start.  Go the extra mile.  Just do it.  Growing up, we are taught that the worst thing you can be is a quitter.  Look, even the Tick says so, and he's basically the soul of America:

Seriously, don't.
And I guess it's good that we get the message, because you sure do need that grit and git'r done to learn what hard work and accomplishments feel like, and grow a foundation for your self-esteem, and become a self-motivated person and all of that. 

But like... you know, as we grow up and take on heavier loads - hella college, serious jobs, home-havership, parenting, etc. - that soft, wholesome coal gets compressed into this harder, sharper edge, doesn't it?  We share around all these tips and tricks for maximizing your efficiency, and figure out innovative new ways to choreograph our days around the almighty to-do list, and write splashy horseshit magazine articles about how you can do a whole workout in seven minutes or get almost-as-good-as a whole night's sleep if you nap for exactly 18.3 minutes, like Homer Simpson compressing five pounds of spaghetti into one handy little granola bar and then downing it in a bite.  It's productivity porn, and just like actual porn, it leaves us exhausted, addicted, and unable to enjoy the real thing.  

In other words, we learn to always finish whatever we start (which leaves a lot of us terrified to start, and a lot more ashamed of not failing to finish), because we've let ourselves believe that any time spent on an unfinished thing is time wasted, and anyone who doesn't finish things is a gormless flake, and anything finished is an achievement - even if all we got out of it was the grim satisfaction of finally having the damn thing done.  (For the try/fail version of this vicious mentality, go read Hyperbole and a Half's This is Why I'll Never Be an Adult.)

Isn't it grand, though, the way little kids live?  Wouldn't it be nice to have that back again - to remember how to leave food on your plate, and how to stop watching a movie or reading a book or building a Lego-castle when you aren't having fun anymore, and not even worry about whether or when you might go back to it?  I kind of want to find my way back there again - to enjoy the actual doing, not just the having-done, and to finish just the important things, not ALL of the things.

Anyway, so that's my New Year's resolution: this year, I'm going to practice not finishing.  In fact, I'm going to stop writing this right now, and go play with my kitty.


Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, that sounds like a great


    ((from Frankles))

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damnit, Frankles, you stole my joke!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry! Didn't mean



    ((from Frankles))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Well, I beat both of you, and didn't finish replying to comments for four days! TAKE THAT, you cheeky jackanapes!

      Delete
  4. I think I'm not a grown up despite looking like one - cos I have never mastered the skill of not finishing things because they should be. If I'm not enjoying doing it or reading it or seeing it 'it' gets put away, closed, or turned off! This actually confirms a friends statement the other day that I'm a big kid at heart :) Loved this blog post! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, hold on to it, Suzanne! Keep your kid big and full of heart - cuz let me tell you, trying to get it back again after you drink the grown-up kool-aid is HARD!

      Delete
  5. What a great post! I took away something from it too… I'm going to not finish a few things I've been pushing myself to finish. Yes, you can teach the old and infirm, well, you can, if you force them. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! Do it with me, Jenny! Let's keep a didn't-do-and-not-sorry list to go with our do-lists! (And I have no idea how old you are, but I would not call anyone who can take a hard wallop to the head and keep on truckin' 'infirm'. Your firmness is supreme - and your flexibility amazes me!)

      Delete
    2. 56…. that's how young I am. I tell everyone I meet because I only look 36. Truth! I wouldn't lie about something like that.

      My mom gave me the "youth" gene - we just don't age. Now… that doesn't mean I don't get tuckered out and all… I just look great while gasping for air. hahahahahahahahaha I just crack myself up - and that, dear Tex, is the true elixir of youth… laugh, laugh with me, laugh at me, laugh under and over me… but just laugh!

      Delete
    3. ...Seriously, 56? I coulda swore you were around my age when we met, late 30s.

      Maybe you're secretly part Asian. We either look 12 or 700.

      Frankenantiage

      Delete