How it gets done.

May 31, 2020 § 5 Comments

This post has been sitting in draft form for months. It is a relic of the “normal” we lived prior to Covid-19.

In some ways, we have achieved the heightened awareness the post suggests, something we often only gave lip service to before the pandemic.

“Getting it done” often begins with a list:

Bathe the dog, pickup a dozen eggs, lose thirty pounds, finish reading the book started last summer, bake bread, call my sister, write that memoir….

The “how” of “getting it done” will fall somewhere between the following two choices:

1.You juggle. Everything on the list will get done incrementally. A little here, a little there. You move fast and leave each project with an I.O.U. and an apologetic, “Hey, I’ll be back,” and hope no task hits the ground before you can catch it again.

Upside? If you’re good at juggling there is rarely a big mess to clean up, and you don’t disappoint anyone–at least not completely.

Downside? Completion of each task comes with, at best, a moment of relief before you rush on to one of the other projects keening for your attention.

2. The single-project strategy: I will sit in this chair until I write ‘The End’ on this damned memoir! All other projects can pout, twiddle their thumbs, even wither and die because, for me, there is no other project.

Upside? The payoff is huge. You’ve slain the dragon! This calls for a ticker tape parade! A new national holiday!

Downside? You look up, and all your other projects are sickly and wilted, and those who have a stake in those other projects, or simply wanted a decent conversation, are good and ticked off. Still, for some there is only one project and it is worth living for, maybe even dying for: martyrs and saints, writers and artists, scientists and dictators—the rest of us have spouses, bosses, friends, and lists that natter at us too loudly to be ignored.

But neither strategy solves the underlying problem.


Time is the get-it-done problem that can never be solved. Time, a river that flows without end, is infinite. We, the list makers, are not. We, ourselves, are items on a list of a higher order and we will, one day, be crossed off.

As finite beings we have limited time to get anything done. Perhaps we should expend a little of that limited commodity to question the whir that keeps us in constant motion. Perhaps we should sometimes set it all down and do…nothing.

This idea can cause panic. Americans are a get-it-done people. Whether in increments or in one long march, we define ourselves by what we accomplish. The busy person seems far more important than the guy sitting on a bench enjoying the warmth of sunlight on his face.

Still, let’s entertain this idea as a third strategy.

3. Don’t get-it-done. Don’t do anything at all. Just be.

Sit still and feel the sun on your face and call it only, the moment.

You won’t vanish. You won’t depreciate in value. And you won’t sit quiet for long before you are, once again, doing.

But sometimes…sometimes…it is better to be the rock in the river, the rock that simply is, as the river rushes by.

Tomorrow’s morning glories.

September 12, 2015 § 3 Comments


We learn a lot in the course of a life, but much of it sits on the dusty back shelf of memory like winter mittens waiting for snow.

It took Matthew to remind me that I know what tomorrow’s morning glories look like, and that the best way to dust off that information was to share it with him.

IMG_9765I told him that today’s morning glories are wide open—but nothing is that simple.

The morning glories themselves reminded me that this is only true until the sun gets high and hot.

After that they look exactly like yesterday’s morning glories, which hang on the vine, bunched shut like draw-string purses.

But when we visited the vines growing on the fence at Matthew’s new house early in the morning the explanation was straightforward.

Open: today’s morning glories.

Puckered shut: yesterday’s.

Furled like umbrellas: tomorrow’s.

We’d walk along the fence pointing out tomorrow’s morning glories. We never found very many. Each day surprised us with the number of deep purple blooms that had come out of hiding while we slept.

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The first thing I didn’t notice…

May 12, 2011 § 18 Comments

The first thing I didn’t notice today was myself in the bathroom mirror—I averted my eyes.  Why start the day knowing what my hair looks like after a whole night of sleeping on it funny?

I made coffee without noticing–some things are automatic–then booted up the computer.  The internet opened to the AOL home page, but I did not notice which star had a.) been sent to rehab or b.) had plastic surgery to some personal body part or c.) was sharing the intimate details of a messy break-up.

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