Learning … and Not

dunceChristmas has been sneaking up on me this year.   I think that’s partly because decorations go up so early these days that it always seems like the Big Day is weeks away.  Or maybe time slips by faster at my age, when each week is a smaller percentage of my lifetime.  Whatever the reason, I got up Saturday morning with the realization that I have one week before we leave for Arizona and lots left to do.   Faced with that frantic how-can-I-get-this-all-done feeling, I sat down at my desk and did my Morning Pages, two pages of free-form journaling that usually is a calmative.  It wasn’t.  It produced a long to-do list that only exacerbated the panic.  At such times, I often find that a Chop Wood – Carry Water day is just the antidote.  On a Chop Wood – Carry Water day, I lay out a (hopefully doable) list of tasks from the mountain of too much to do in front of me and try to work through it mindfully, focusing only on the task at hand.  Such discipline is not part of my nature … I’m inclined to free-run through my to-do lists.

My first task on Saturday was cleaning my office.  One of my colleagues in my Big Industry days had a sign in his office: A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind.  No one would every judge me sick based on my desk, at least in it’s natural state.  Not based on my table, bookcases and file cabinets either, so cleaning my office is a major operation.  My approach is divide and conquer.  All the stuff from the desk goes on the table so I can dust and polish the desk.   Same for the bookcases and file cabinets.  When the table is done at last, the office is clean.  As I was clearing my desk, I felt something wet on my leg and looked down to see a trickle of jet black liquid staining my new jeans andspill shoes.  The trickle turned to a creek as it wandered across my keyboard tray and to a river on my desk, a river whose source was an ink bottle lying on its side.  Yes, I’m a fountain pen guy.  Yes, I’d left the bottle with the top loose when I’d filled my pen.  Sometimes, I’m an idiot, I told Muri as I showed her my ruined jeans.  You do have a problem with leaving tops off, she said, shaking her head, and she’s right, of course.  This is approximately the third time I’ve spilled a bottle of ink on my desk.  There’s been milk spilled in the refrigerator and an entire jar of smokehouse almonds dumped all over the kitchen floor.  Muri could probably provide other examples, but I’m taking the fifth.  Or maybe the quart.

There are some things I never seem to learn.  Put tops on tightly.  Don’t wear your good jeans when you’re working around the house.  Turn off the barbeque when you’re done cooking.  Close cabinets behind you so you don’t bang your head on the door the next time your come into the kitchen (Why are cabinet doors ALWAYS at forehead height?).  Clean up your work space regularly so it doesn’t turn into a disaster area.  My Mom used to say, Life is meant for learning and I often say, A mistake is just a mistake unless you learn from it.   Fortunately, I seem to learn from the big mistakes, the ones that could change tone and texture of a life.  The little mistakes, though, not so much.  I try … I honestly do … perhaps I’m missing a gene or two. Or maybe, I’m just a product of that Y chromosome.

I also never seem to learn to get my Christmas shopping done before the last minute, so this will be another Chop Wood – Carry Water day, at least until we take time out to have a holiday dinner with our friends Don and Evie.

Is there anything you never seem to learn?

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4 Comments on “Learning … and Not”

  1. elainecanham Says:

    Is there anything I never seem to learn? Everything. I only realise what the new thing is I need to learn when I make another mistake, and even that doesn’t cure things. My tactlessness for example. Never mind. We were meant to be imperfect. Hah!

  2. cherperz Says:

    What a shame about the new jeans. I hate to ruin clothes. I love the look of crisp white blouses and white T shirts. I should know better because it never fails that when I cook the meat will splatter or one of the cats will wipe her face across me. “sigh”…but I still like the look of crisp and clean white tops for however long they last.


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