Wednesday, February 24

My To-Do List

Lately I've had Ogden Nash on my mind, specifically his poem "Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man," which hit me like a kick to the gut the first time I heard it, probably on WNYC. In the poem, Nash compares the sins of omission with the sins of commission and concludes that if you are going to sin, at least to "remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing." After all, "you never get any fun / Out of things you haven't done ..."

Indeed not. Alas, mine are the sins of omission, of procrastination, of the 4-page-long to-do list that includes things I have failed to do (or to let go of) for weeks, months, even a year or longer. Mine are the sins of the still-unwritten thank-you notes, the stacks of paper on my desk, the neatly folded shower curtain on top of my bureau (why?), the old computer equipment in a closet (including a Mac PowerBook Duo and its dock; again, why?), the boxes of clothing and gently used items for the Salvation Army piled in a corner of the bedroom, the other boxes of who-knows-what in the living room, the fans gathering dust in another corner of the living room ...

The situation has improved much since the Critter was born, at which time the nursery was still more or less a storage room for miscellaneous items and the surface of my desk was not to be found. And yet I still find myself thinking and thinking and thinking about what remains to be done. It's shitbird thinking, and it's tricky to withstand. On the one hand, I have to take care of these things. On the other hand, I must not treat the necessity of taking care of these things as an obstacle in itself. For example, while I have to get my desk clean (and then keep it clean), in the meantime I have to keep writing anyway. I must not tell myself, desk too cluttered, can't write. I must not sit there thinking and thinking and thinking about the cluttered desk during the time I should be writing. Thinking about the desk doesn't get it clean, and it doesn't get any poems written!

1 comment:

Genevra said...

You have so eloquently voiced a struggle I have been working through for the last several months! Love the point about not letting the perceived size of the tasks at hand become an obstacle or excuse for inertia. It's a great reminder... thank you. Love you! ;)