After the Fact: Getting around to it


“When I retire, I’m going to” (fill in the blanks here). We spend more time planning for the future than actually doing anything with it when it arrives. “When I get my driver’s license” was a big one, except I didn’t own a car so any driving was accomplished in the family sedan that had to be home by a certain time. Then, to my amazement, I found I really didn’t like driving all that much. “When I finish school” was another, except I don’t think I’ve arrived at that time yet. Or “When I get married,” “When the kids are grown” and then “When I have the money to.”

While we’re working, we live for the weekends but find that Monday arrives and we’ve accomplished half (or less) of what we’d spent all week planning. We go on vacations to “get away from it all,” to “rest and recuperate.” Then, when the days at the beach are over, we come home so tired, we need a vacation during which we can recover from the vacation we just rushed through.

With the best of intentions, I’d decided to make the best out of retiring when I wasn’t really ready to retire (sometimes, the job leaves you before you leave the job). My house was going to be sparkling, a place for everything and everything in its place. I was going to paint. Walls and paintings. I was going to write the Great American Novel.  And other such trivial pursuits.

I bought the paint, rollers, brushes and all else required for house painting. It’s all been waiting for a year or so. You’d be amazed at the excuses I can contrive to avoid actually doing the work. I’ve done nearly as little with painting paintings and writing. Well, I feel like I’m working to capacity by getting this column written every week let alone am I going to compete with Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind). Or even Danielle Steele.  How Ruth Heide manages to write a column every week, cover city council and other meetings, assign other stories and take whatever’s left over is nothing short of fantastic!  If she didn’t have her family of four-legged kids to care for, she probably could write a novel or two.

There are people I know who do manage unbelievable workloads and still find time to create wonderful works of art, to teach yoga, to plant gardens, to serve on two or three or more committees, boards of directors, or work with kids in 4H and Scouts. I think they are sapping the cosmic source of energy, leaving less for the rest of us. That’s excuse #42 for not painting the bedroom walls. Granted, it’s not a terribly valid excuse, but it sounds good.

On Facebook (great entertainment if you don’t take anything that shows up there seriously), I saw a post that said “I’m not saying you’re stupid: it’s just that you have bad luck with thinking.” The “bad luck” thing also works with finding the greatest jobs, making the higher salaries, winning the lottery and buying a car that’s not a lemon.  Some people seem to have it all, regardless of ability or dedication. It’s as though the heavens open up and heap goodies all over these people just because they’re standing still long enough for it to land or because they’ve complained the longest and loudest. Now, those are the folks who really sap the cosmos. And they find someone else who’s just too happy to paint their house, inside and out.

The rest of us go to Sherwin Williams, buy twice as much paint as we’ll use in a lifetime and watch the dust accumulate on the lids of the cans until guilt becomes overwhelming. Or until your in-laws are coming to visit.

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