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:
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.