I have tried for decades to find the quaint little village of "All Caught Up." I can see it in my mind, but it isn't on any map. Nevertheless, I'm in love with the false notion that if I work hard enough, smart enough, fast enough, and long enough, perhaps one day I will find myself zooming over the mountain and into a beautiful lush valley. Just before entering a peaceful little town, I will see the sign, "Welcome to All Caught Up!"
Are you like me? Do you wish that for once all your work and chores were completed? All the laundry done, folded, and put neatly away. All the closets clean and organized. The basement all neat and tidy. The garage swept. The bills paid. The desk cleared of all that random paperwork. All correspondence completely up-to-date. The weeds pulled. The lawn mowed. The windows washed. The refrigerator filled with marinated salads and a casserole just waiting to be popped in the oven. Fresh cherry pies cooling in a row on the counter top. And the feeling of delight and satisfaction that at least for once, everything is "all caught up."
Instead everywhere I look, something calls out for my attention:
I walk through the laundry room. Look at that heap of laundry. I really must tend to that.
Then I see the stack of dishes by the sink. I had better get those in the dishwasher right away.
My eyes fall on my kitchen desk. Oh, I need to get those insurance claims filed and the checkbook balanced.
I think of a friend who needs some encouragement. I need to call and see how she is doing.
Oh, I had better figure out what I'm making for dinner and thaw some meat.
I really must get to my office and write that article I promised to have done this week.
On and on it goes, this never-ending dialogue with myself. The chastisement for what is not done rather than the pleasure of what has been accomplished. Just yesterday I weeded and cultivated the soil around my plants in my six garden beds. Immediately, I began to think of other things that still needed to be done: the roses need fertilizer, two rose bushes wait in their pots to be planted, a flower bed needs weeded. But I was tired and hot, so I stopped. As I entered the house through the laundry room, I saw the laundry that needed sorting and washed. That was just the beginning of endless things indoors that clamored for attention. Then I caught myself.
Marlene, your garden is weed-free for the moment. Enjoy what you HAVE done. Stop always focusing on the next task at hand. So I went back outside to enjoy the garden beds all neat and tidy. Everything else would have to wait for a few moments. Then I came inside and cut two large chocolate chip brownies to take to my neighbors who had just come home from putting their dog down. Then I called a friend who has been having some health challenges. (Neither one was on my list!) I continued my day with a variety of other tasks. But when the day ended, many things were still undone---as always.
Since my mental to-do list will never end, I must find a way not to let things yet undone become my cruel taskmaster. There must be a way to gracefully move through the day seeing my work as sacred and accepting the rhythm of my daily round. I want to find joy in what I have accomplished and to thank God for the strength and energy he has given for today. For today, I determine to give up the search for the mythical destination of All Caught Up. What about you?
(c) 2005 Marlene Depler