Tag Archives: divorce

Patience #2

Once upon a time I was not a patient person.  My life, the traffic, the checkout line – none of it moved fast enough for me.  I remember reading a book back in the 70s titled Don’t Push the River (by one of Fritz Perls’ followers), and thinking, “why not??”

About ten years ago I went to see my Unitarian pastor about my marriage, hoping that he would tell me if I should stay or go.

(He’s also a practicing Buddhist.) He told me I was too “ambitious.”

What? Me?  He explained that he meant ambitious in the sense that I was striving for an answer (pushing the river) when the answer wasn’t yet ready to present itself.  Ambition as a form of impatience.

One day a couple of years later the answer revealed itself clearly and simply – and because of that patient stewing period the ensuing separation was pretty painless.

These days I’m much much more patient than I used to be. Yoga has definitely helped. Being older and having more perspective on what’s really important has also helped.

The fellow over at ZenHabits has a post up with his tips on cultivating patience. He suggests keeping track of your impatient moments by making check marks on a tally sheet, and by noticing what specific sorts of things tally impatient feelings.

My friend Paul suggests rock-stacking, as he did on a recent camping trip.

I’m done with traffic and checkout line impatience.  Those have been gone for years.  My two biggest impatience triggers these days are:

  • people who talk on and on (an on), without ever seeming to be able to locate their point
  • wanting to know the outcome of a situation in the future (that I can’t possibly know till that time arrives) -like whether this old high school friend and I will actually be able to create a viable relationship when we see each other at reunion in mid-August…. my imagination can’t let this puppy rest!

All my spiritual learnings tell me to breathe and be here now, since NOW is all I’ve got. Ever. Werner used to tell us “what is is; what isn’t isn’t” – get over it.

It’s hard.

Procrastination

Procrastination: putting off intentionally something that should be done,
from the Latin, pro (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow)

Ben Zimmer at Slate.com says

How fitting that the word is lengthy and Latinate, taking its time to reach a conclusion. Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson once wrote that procrastination is “really sloth in five syllables.” And yet the word denotes so much more than mere sloth or indolence: A procrastinator meticulously organizing a sock drawer or an iTunes library can’t exactly be accused of laziness. Likewise, procrastination is not simply the act of deferral or postponement. It implies an intentional avoidance of important tasks, putting off unpleasant responsibilities that one knows should be taken care of right away and setting them on the back burner for another day.

Noting Ben Franklin’s dictum “never put off until tomorrow what should be done today,” Zimmer reminds us of MarkTwain’s response: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

Which brings us to another great P-word perendinate, meaning “to put something off until the day after tomorrow.”

And – picture stories being worth 1000 textual declamations -join me in procrastinating a minute longer with cartoonist Lev Yilmaz. Laugh while you wince in self-recognition.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to explore the P words that pave my path to Perfection. Procrastination is one of those words, and yet I’ve posted 60 entries on this blog without touching upon this pimple on the ass of Progress.

When I was preparing for a party last week, I reorganized a couple of kitchen cabinets, gathered a box of books for the second-hand store, and hung a bunch of pictures. Today, in preparation for an appointment with my divorce* attorney, I’m writing in my blog about procrastination.

John Perry, a Stanford philosophy professor whose public radio show Philosophy Talk is a favorite of mine, calls this “structured procrastination.”

I have discovered an amazing strategy that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

Ah. I feel better now.

*Divorce – I’ve been separated for 7 years from my almost ex, but we have yet to finalize it. This gives you some sense of my capacity for procrastination.

Plenitude: its dark underbelly

Plenitude: abundance, copiousness; the condition of being full, complete. From Latin: plenus = full.

Whenever you’re feeling cranky, mingy and stingy, like you just don’t have ENOUGH (enough whatever – money, love, time), the pop psychology wisdom is to open your heart to the gifts you already have and to feel gratitude for the bounty in your life.

And I do that. I feel grateful for the abundance in my life most of the time.
I am satisfied and want not.

However.

Right now I’m clear that plenitude is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

In fact, I’ve got too much of a good thing. Too much of MANY good things. Too big a house. Too big a (beautiful) garden. Too many books. Too many interests. Too many commitments. (You can never have too many friends.) My life is plenus to the max.

If I were still married* and had a partner with whom to share the physical space and the physical chores, that would help. But I’d still have the rest of it – with the addition of the company and requirements of my partner – resulting in a net wash.

I was reading a book on feng shui recently in which the author suggested that if you wanted something new in your life (new career, partner, social circle, home) you have to go beyond ordinary clutter clearing. You have to create a VACUUM. Only when there’s a nice hole will something rush in to fill it.

I feel certain that if I got rid of half my stuff and found a place half this size with little or no yard, other opportunities would appear. And if I’d complete my divorce and stop being friends with my ex, a new romance might appear…

But all these things are WORK. It’s so much easier to complain about plenitude.

*True confession: I’ve been legally separated from DH since 2002, living happily apart all this time, but we’re still not divorced – we were each busy and it didn’t seem pressing to finalize it. I now see the foolishness of my ways.