91 days: 6 burdens lifted
In the space of 24 hours, all my problems dissolved like magic. Here’s how I made it happen.
I’m setting up a new life. The goal is to keep track of the process; the details must not dominate. My time is filled with details, but my mind is free. If only I can leave the boulders roll down.
I keep getting e-mails that require me to locate documents, sign my name, prove that I am who I am, or will be who I have been. To me it’s obvious: why would I have become anybody else? I even have to convince my Chromebook to recognize me as me. When it thinks I’m not me, it refuses to scan.
I have to summon the name of a person who believes I am who I am, seen me in action, and is compos mentis to know he’s seen me in action, in some cases, despite the passage of decades. I have to politely request that he affirm, attest, and certify. This wastes his time as he was inevitably vacationing in Florida, where all the New Englanders are now. This process is bad for my dignity. But I do it.
So the first burden lifted was a creative solution that made those requests unnecessary. I will simply demonstrate who I am myself, anew, live action. I will study the procedures I need to know and perform them with agility, confidence, and finesse. Done! If I can do now what I could do then, I must be the same person. Doesn’t matter what anyone remembers.
Next is the creative project I dreamed of. I wanted to make a table. I would use this table in my apartment, where I will live in 91 days when I start my new job. It would be brand new, like the rest of my life: I’d eat on it, dribble on it, roll my eyes at the newspaper on it, drum my fingers on it, misplace my keys down on it. I’d care for it, sponge it, polish it, and inevitably scratch it’s gleaming surface. Then it would be truly loved.
The design was based on a Fibonacci sequence of numbers.
“The shapes of spiral galaxies, such as Messier 74, and hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irene, follow the Fibonacci sequence.”
I modified the design, cropped, brightened, tilted and hacked it. A dozen revisions later, it still wasn’t quite right. Suddenly, wandering around in Harvard Yard, I found a perfect table, made by table-making people, who know just how to do it. Rich, warm cherry, a reliable hardwood. It met the SMART crieria in every way: Specifically what I needed, Measured to my specifications, Attainable by transport by car, horizontally Relevant to my needs, and just think of the Time I’ll save by not having to toil over a power sander. Done!
SMART Goals, is a ubiquitous mnemonic used to explain the desirable quality of goals in many areas including education and self-help programs (Drucker, 1954).
Next burden off my shoulders: I’m not needed. I’ve been working on a project (notice the deliberately vague language to protect the anonymous) that has escalated for over 3 years to the point where I would have to travel to another state to provide, explain, and support my opinions on a matter. Then I’d be repeatedly challenged, confronted, contradicted, and given very little water, not to mention a bathroom break for hours. It could easily flow into the following day. I’d squirm on a cushionless seat for hours, before 12 scowling, yawning, random faces, in a room too stuffy, with a faint odor of Pine Sol mixed with mold, and in a pressed white collared blouse, neutral blazer, and high but not too high heels. Please can’t I just stay in my home for the few remaining 91 days left? Then my phone rings, Shazam! We don’t need you. We have enough other experts to dress up, sit down, and watch the sweat drip. One more croquette out of my saute pan!
Thus we have lifted 3 burdens in one day. One got bypassed by a simpler alternative, one substituted by release of an unrealistic expectation, and the final one offloaded to someone else. My math adds up to 6 because in each case the relief was so colossal that it counted as double.
Now I won’t focus on documents, sawdust, or testimony. Instead I’ll work on my blog.