Saturday, September 24, 2011
Letting Down My Hare
Aside from the birth year problems, there's one major reason why I don't subscribe to the truth of the Chinese zodiac. It's because I have learned for certain that I'm not a horse and Ed is not a dog. I am a HARE and Ed is a TORTOISE.
Anyone who knows us well is already aware of this. Literally, our walking styles fit this picture. I like to go out, walk fast, get it over with, and come back indoors to resume other activities that I find much more pleasurable. Ed goes out and walks slowly, sometimes covering 6 miles a day. He stops to light his pipe, he stops to blow his nose, he stops to talk to a neighbor. He even (gasp!) tries to commune with nature!
Why am I so accident-prone? Because I'm always in a hurry. Heck, I've got things to do - important things! And, like the famous hare in the fable, I end up underestimating the time involved on a project and end up resting under a tree when I should be gaining some ground in the race.
The funny thing is that I rarely win the race. I end up setting myself on fire, getting head trauma from a cabbage (appropriate for a hare, n'est ce pas?), or suffering some other calamity of going too fast and not paying attention, the injuries of which take me out of the race for a good length of time. Sometimes I'll look at how far the finish line it, and say, "To heck with it," because the whole thing is just too daunting to even start.
Enters Ed, the Tortoise King. He is never in a hurry. He says he has read that slower people who smoke tend toward pipe smoking because it is a slow process (loading, packing, lighting, relighting, cleaning the pipes), or, conversely, people who smoke pipes are automatically slower folks because of these steps. Whether his nicotine habit has anything to do with it or not, I don't know. All I know is it is impossible to get him to hurry up. When I try to, he just gets nasty and upset and blames every subsequent mistake he makes on me.
In my ongoing attempt to improve myself and organize my life, I came upon a book Self Discipline in 10 Days which is short and to the point in breaking through the barriers that prevent us from living the productive, organized lives that we want. In the process of reading the book and taking notes, I decided that I would make a contract with myself to quilt 15 minutes a day. Now, the whole idea sounds pathetic. What can one possibly accomplish in 15 minutes a day? You might as well not do anything! Yeah, that's what I thought. To my surprise, I can get a lot of quilting steps done in only 15 minutes a day. I find the timing of every day helpful, for instance, to remember where I am in the sequence. This avoids the frustrating inner dialogue of "Do I need 80 7 x 7-inch squares of the print, and 80 sets of 2 x 2-inch squares and 2 x 3-1/2-inch square of the cream? ...and where the heck am I, anyway?" It has actually helped me to become more of a tortoise, slow but steady, making progress that is not so evident daily but after a week or so, is all laid out for me to see.
I will never stop trying to get everything done quickly and Ed will never stop ambling along enjoying the scenery. That probably means I'll burn myself out and he'll win the race with energy to spare, smiling all the way. Oh, well. I get him to appointments on time and he makes me slow down enough to see an eagle's nest. Come to think of it, I think it will really be a tie score and we'll hopefully end up crossing the finish line hand in hand - if I can slow up enough to be able to finish the race with all fingers intact!