Whenever we are in a discussion with guests about getting things done M begins his tale about my work ethic which he labels the “Farm boy Work Ethic”. He continues to explain that I never stop thinking that a chore must be done and then go and do it. As compared to his “City Boy Work Ethic”, I am an uncomplaining work horse while he thinks nothing of sitting at his computer, stretching and starting a new game of cards!! He can physically work, even at his “elderly” age when he decides a certain project can’t wait or be put off.
Saturday I opened the bedroom window that faces a large cemented area in front of the garage. Next I constructed a temporary shoot go past the eves (to protect them) and be used for items to travel down and fall into a big red wagon. After the wagon fills up it needed emptying in a spot to go out to the road for garbage pick up.
The following day around 10:00 am I started carrying an enormous amount of “stuff” from a large storm room that included anything we hadn’t used in years. The stuff should never have come here in the first place. M never could let go of an electrical cord or a little piece from a computer plus a variety of other things. By one o’clock in the afternoon I had made little progress. This routine of carrying to the window, throwing a bag or box or other container down the shoot kept me busy the rest of the day. By five pm I looked at a tower of lumber leaning against the wall. If I didn’t get it out I knew it would need to wait for the next refuse pick up. My trips with the heavy lumber, even though overextending my waning energy taxed my work ethic finally finished at seven thirty pm. After disassembling the shoot and closing the window I ran to the thermostat to turn on the air conditioner!! The whole time I worked on Sunday I kept thinking that I pushed the farm boy’s work ethic to the limit!!
Today, when I return to the storeroom to pick up and remove a huge myriad of empty boxes, break down shelving we want and to try to make the room look descent I hope my “farm boy” is with me and pushes me forward!!
Not more than six feet in front of me hangs my “To0 Much to do List”. I hung the list for added tasks to do than I usually have. At first the list hung benignly on the wall. There wasn’t anything special about it. Suddenly, it came to life A face developed within the list. It stares at me and has a big red mouth, big eyes, a strange mustache and it jeers at me as I try to work. It mocks me with its eyes and eyebrows arched. It demands that I take notice of it and that I must heed its power. The messages change. It tells me to get going and that it knows exactly how much I do; almost as though it sees me wherever I am!!
I question who is this thing and how can a “thing” jeer and tell me what to do. When I am at my desk trying to work, he jeers and I become annoyed. I think, “How dare he!” Quickly I ask myself how I can assign a gender to him. If I do then I recognize it is real, an entity that it could have power over me.
To become annoyed with this face in my list is ridiculous. I am strong enough to tell him I do a lot, in fact, there are fewer times of play than work. I make lists occasionally when I need specific items done by a particular date or I make a list when I must do work on more items that I normally would not do. There are days I feel like the “dog chasing its own tail”! Within me is the high work ethic I gained from growing up on an Iowa farm. During busy times farm work always came first and to dawdle while doing something was inexcusable. My father’s anthem for task given was “Do it now, don’t play, do it right and be done quickly for another task!” I hated the summer days when I worked at farming. Sitting on a tractor, on a bright, hot and humid Iowa day, didn’t please me, now did my performance please my father!
Pondering over why this nagging face has appeared in my list, I think possibly it is not an enemy, it might be a part of me trained to do the work as soon as possible. Could it be me telling myself to get going? Possibly, I am hesitant to begin some of the tasks and even if I am not lazy, occasionally I ask why I must do this work.
I am the one who sees and does.
If it weren’t for the jeering smile in my list pushing me on so that I start a new item as soon as possible!