Do you remember as a kid, or more likely a teenager, defiantly declaring that you were NEVER going to be like your mom or dad when you grew up? Well, to quote Dr. Phil: How’s that working for you?
One of my favorite reminders for keeping myself humble (and honest!) is the adage that when you point your finger at someone, you’ve got three more pointing back at yourself. And isn’t it often the case that the things that bug us the most about other people are actually (perhaps subconsciously) the things that most bug us about ourselves?
My dad is an engineer … and “being an engineer” comes with a whole slew of quirks and personality traits that have provided (justifiably, I might add!) the butts of many jokes. Yes, it’s fun to pick on and tease engineer types but where would we be without them? Growing up I never understood how people like electricians, carpenters, plumbers or even contractors stayed in business because didn’t everyone’s dad know how to do those things? If Dad didn’t already know how to do something, he knew how to figure out how to do it. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it always took him forever and a day to git ‘er done. I’m only slightly exaggerating here! It was not uncommon for projects to drag on for multiple years (much to Mom’s chagrin!). This “quirk” also manifested itself on the micro level with Dad having absolutely no sense of time for even daily activities. Ask him how long he’d be running errands and you could safely double it … at least … and maybe come close to when he’d actually be home (again, much to Mom’s chagrin!).
And much to MY chagrin, I’m finding myself much the same way these days … and I can’t use “being an engineer” as an excuse!!
Case in point: because of my near-death-blood-clot incident I decided over a year ago that I needed to move my body more. Because my reality is that I spend a lot of time sitting* at my computer during days when I’m not away at gigs, my first idea was to get a treadmill, one with a “shelf” for my laptop, so I could not only get off my rear end but actually move for much of the day while still getting my work done. Win-win. And get this—a friend offered to give me her very nice treadmill-with-a-shelf, as long as I did the moving. Wow, it was meant to be. There’s not a lot of extra room in my little 5-room home, however, so the only place I’d be able to put it is in my office … but only if I did a little rearranging in there first. How hard would that be?
For a normal person it probably wouldn’t be hard at all. For ME … well, that’s another story!
First of all, it took me months to even start the project (you know, because of the whole “the-life-of-a-freelancer-is-hectic-and-unpredictable-and-I’m-naturally-undisciplined-and-I’ve-got-a-Myers-Briggs-“P”-personality” thing*). Then once I did get started, the project quickly expanded, not unlike a can of Pillsbury breakfast rolls; you barely start to peel back the pointed edge of the paper and—POOF!—the can explodes and is now twice as big as it was before you began. Perfect metaphor. And if you’ve ever opened one of those cans before, you know what’s coming and maybe even kind of “dread” it a little because you don’t know exactly when it’s going to pop or how much it’s going to pop. So to continue with our little metaphor here, perhaps that’s part of the reason it took me months to start this project in the first place. Realistically, I knew I actually needed to reorganize and clean out and sift through the piles of … $#!% … that had been slowly accumulating for (I’m embarrassed to admit) over two years, waiting for me to find a “few spare moments” (!) to get everything filed away. Deep down I knew it wasn’t just going to be a matter of “a little rearranging” and I dreaded the expansion the “poof” would add to my workload.
Well, I finally began in earnest last March and, sure enough—POOF!—before I could properly file away those piles I had to clean out certain storage areas so I shifted to that and—POOF!—these included things like ancient (are there any other kind?) VHS tapes that I decided to just get rid of and—POOF!—as long as I was updating my entertainment options I might as well digitize all my music and get rid of my CDs and—POOF!—gee, I never transferred all of my CDs to my iTunes library and that takes a lot of time when you own as many CDs as I do and—POOF!—now I’ve got way too many songs to fit on my iPhone so how do I make sure the songs I want to have easy access to find a space there and—POOF!—as long as I’m redoing my office I might as well get those white walls painted so let me move everything to the center of the room and—POOF!—it just figures that the painter I “bought” through Groupon went out of business and who knows when I’ll have time to look into finding another one I can afford and —POOF!—meanwhile much of the contents of my office have spilled out into my kitchen, hallway and living room making my little 5-room home feel quite claustrophobic and less-than-ideal for work, entertaining, or simply living in a healthy way (see video below) and—POOF!—OMG, I’ve turned into my dad!!!
There is more to this office story (for instance, I never did get the treadmill—apparently it wasn’t “meant to be”!) but I’ll spare you those details. Suffice it to say that trying to function—for close to nine months!—in the “squalor” all this produced pushed me over the edge … or got me to the bottom of the barrel … or whatever metaphor you want to use. Plainly put, I’d had enough … so I resolved to make some changes.
And I’ll elaborate on those “resolutions” in the next installment! In the meantime, let me close by saying that now, whenever I hear young people vow to NEVER be like their mom or dad, I simply chuckle and mutter under my breath, “Remind me to check in with you in a few years to see how well that’s working for you!”
*see previous posting