Little Boxes

I’ve avoided being the sort of guy whose calendar book is full of checkable events. There aren’t thirty things every day waiting for a tiny box to get inked. But, on the other hand, I have known people like that – they get antsy and all pious that something isn’t checked off. They make faces at what they assume is erratic behavior on other people’s part.

I’ve never needed that level of detail in my life. But I’m not perfect, so sometimes I feel like dope slapping myself for forgetting something or not scheduling carefully enough to get it all done.

There is a reason and rhyme behind why I do it my way and not that way. And it’s not my naturally perverse nature. It’s that it’s too comforting to fall into a schedule and, by checking everything off, feel that you’ve achieved what is essential in life.
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, you say? Well, I did.

Some years ago, I had a boss who kind-heartedly bought me a detailed daily planner. One of those ten-pound jobbies so popular in some business organizations. She wanted to help me clean up my slovenly work habits. She admitted I was getting the job done, but I was capable of doing so much more, she insisted. So for an entire year, I dedicated myself to dutifully checking boxes as I achieved goals and objectives. It was seductive, and I found pleasure in anticipating checking things off.

One night I realized that while I got a lot done, I wasn’t very creative at what I did, nor was the job a very creative one. It took a while, but I changed course. I dumped the planner and the job. My boss was disappointed and didn’t understand my logic when I explained to her that I wasn’t condemning her or her career goals, but they just didn’t fit me.

Symbolically I used the planner on the next camping trip to light fires. It served a better purpose providing heat than guiding my life.

I still have a calendar book, but it principally serves as a reminder of holidays and the procession of the seasons. My more informal lists of things reside in my head. This list is irregular and inconstant but in keeping with my lifestyle. Things happen when it is suitable for them to happen. I nag myself to do this or that in the shop or at my job. However, I also admit that I could do much more if I yielded to the greater organization. But then I’d be back to checking off boxes instead of living my life.

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