Never a Good Time

The book club I’m part of has one very convenient feature: two of our members are Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library librarians. They label and check out our books for us, and when book club is over, they gather them up and return them. So last month, when it happened that neither librarian could attend, we all looked at each other blankly and asked ourselves, “How will the books get back?” Lisa volunteered to take them.

There was no particular reason that Lisa should have been the one to do it. Continue reading “Never a Good Time”

A Good Use of Time

As Sunday afternoon wore on, part of me felt frustrated. It complained, “Here’s the whole day gone and I haven’t done anything!”

The other part of me countered, “What I have done is go on a 5½ mile walk with my husband and my dog, stopping in the middle for a charming lunch at a sidewalk café. What I have done is lived.”

Why is it so hard to feel like that is a valid way to spend part of my weekend? Especially when there was nothing else I particularly wanted to get done that day? Continue reading “A Good Use of Time”

Ethics, Sleep and Creativity

Lately, I admit, I’ve been fudging the posting timeframe a bit. So, to make some amends, a bonus post with links to some helpful articles I ran across this week.

First, an interview that takes the ethics of everyday decisions to a whole new level:

people have to understand that there’s no latitude, that there’s no such thing as a little bit wrong, like there’s no such thing as a little bit pregnant… if you look at things that way, even a bad attitude is an ethical issue, because it might mean your own work isn’t being done properly, and you’re probably infecting others so their performance suffers, too.

Then two posts that made me feel both better and worse about my productivity levels:

From the Wall Street Journal, why some people can sleep so little and get so much done.

For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time. Natural “short sleepers,” as they’re officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.

From Rands In Repose, a discussion of how creativity can be harnessed.

Those who do not understand creativity think it has a well-defined and measurable on/off switch, when in reality it’s a walking dial with many labels. One label reads “Morose and apathetic” and another reads “Unexpectedly totally cranking it out”. This dial sports shy, mischievous feet – yes, feet – that allow it to simply walk away the moment you aren’t paying attention, and each time it walks away, it finds a new place to hide.

Finally, a long, beautiful, depressing and inspiring story about an experiment in which a world-famous violinist played for a crowd of commuters.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you?

Making Hay

I’m not sure if it falls under Murphy’s Law, or a corollary, or if I can claim it for my own, but it never fails: if you have been putting off a specific task, as soon as you resolve to do it, something will happen to prevent you:

If you mean to exercise, you’ll break your toe.

If you’ve been meaning to start saving, you’ll suddenly take a pay cut.

If you’ve wanted to hang out more with a particular friend, they will move away/ leave town extendedly/ have a time-consuming family emergency.

The examples are endless. The solution, too, comes in many familiar forms: Seize the day. Just do it. Make hay while the sun shines. Eat, drink, and be merry (or spend more time with your family, make a will, or volunteer for a worthwhile cause) for tomorrow you die.

It is a lesson, I admit, that I am frequently reminded of but have yet to learn completely. Make hay while the sun shines.

But then, when you do get hit by that sudden rainstorm (or flu, or headache, or life’s general unpredictability), what do you do? To be sure, it’s harder to make hay. But instead of crying out against cruel fate and resigning yourself to whatever is streaming on Netflix, you could always make soup. Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for the last year. Call that friend who moved away before you could hang out more often. Surely not everything you’ve been meaning to do requires a sunny day (or the use of whatever body part you’ve injured, or… )

“Make hay while the sun shines” implies that you can only accomplish things when all circumstances are fortuitous. Of course, you should take advantage of those opportunities. But perhaps the better advice is: Seize all the days – the sunny and the rainy ones.

Do It Anyway

I’ve hinted that I struggled with moodiness on last week’s trip to NYC. It doesn’t often hit, which makes the “Go away and leave me alone!” reaction that much stronger when it does.

There was a point on Sunday afternoon at which I was regretting having made arrangements to meet an old New York friend for dinner; I didn’t want to have to be social. But I wouldn’t let myself make an excuse to ditch – and I had a great time. I even came away excited for the next few months (albeit with a new time-consuming project).

Also, it so happened that the last day of my stay was my birthday. Continue reading “Do It Anyway”