Many retirees will have heard the joke . . .
“What are you doing?”
“But you did that yesterday.”
“I know, but I didn’t finish.”
I’ve been a bit like that the last fortnight. The problem with time in retirement is that it is often elastic. What doesn’t get done today, can be finished any other time, whereas I really need the stress of a deadline to accomplish things. For the last couple of weeks, I have let external prompts set my priorities, but along the way, I have severed my ties with the last of my pre-retirement life, and tidied a few loose ends as well.
The best prompt was when hubbie said “That’s opened up the room.” He is referring to the way we re-arranged the lounge room furniture last Christmas, when we needed to make room for ten at the dining table. I never mentioned we should put it back into its original place, because in my mind, our Christmas layout was only ever a half-way measure until I could get him on side to move even more of the furniture. He is a “here is sofa, here is television – job done!” kind of guy, whereas I have been feeling claustrophobic for a long time now. I knew if I planted the seed and waited . . . and waited . . . It only took four months. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Now I am waiting for him to get used to the new arrangement before I ask him to re-hang the wall art to suit the new furniture layout. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Our television, which had been suspended from a wall bracket, switches itself on at midnight. The first time it happened, the sound of murmuring voices woke me with a start, and I thought we had a break-in (even though we live five floors above ground). I got around the phantom switch by turning the electricity off at the wall, but with the new layout, I can’t reach the plug. So hubbie played with the television settings, until between us, we worked out the root cause. Problem solved. It only took four years. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
A former work colleague rang to pick what is left of my brain. That reminded me that we had started to clean out the garage a while back, and hadn’t finished by the end of the day. I recalled that I was about to throw out a box of “stuff” that could be useful for him. Now all that was left of my work-life is packed up in a big box which is sitting in the hallway, waiting for me to arrange to get it up to Sydney. At least that has a deadline . . .
In fact, “Finish cleaning the garage” was on my supposedly motivational list of “things to do“. I keep a filing cabinet in the garage, and we have bought a you-beaut shredder. I dragged everything up into the lounge room, because it was dark and lonely in the garage, and I made an almighty mess all day, sorting out old “stuff”. The shredder overheated and had a dummy spit several times during the day, but with hubbie’s help, that is actually one job that was completed. A two inch strike-through on the to-do list is hardly representative of the day’s effort.
I don’t know if it was on account of moving the furniture :-) but poor old hubbie came down with gout. I think it was because we had a fun Arabian night here at the complex, complete with a belly dancing exhibition. I suspect he was so frightened he might be called upon to dance, that his ankle swelled up. Hanging around, laid up on the couch, he got so bored he started reading appliance manuals. He worked out how to turn off the clock on the microwave overnight, so that it is not consuming electricity unnecessarily. Not that it will save much, but every little bit helps. We’ve had the microwave almost six years, and it only needed two buttons to be pressed simultaneously to stop the clock display . . . but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And so it went. There were twenty-five items on the list, some needed a few minutes, some needed hours, some were trivial, some were important – none were urgent. There are five still to be crossed off. They will never get done, until something that is even less important pushes them to the top of a new priority list.
It was the same when I had a paying job. The last three things in the in-tray never got attended to, even if I had worked hammer and tongs to clear the decks. I always lost motivation once the pressure was off.
And in the last few days, I have a new priority that has pushed all the others into oblivion. I have received the report on my manuscript from my editor. Now to settle to tinker with it some more. I cannot share how long I have been writing this story. It is just too embarrassing.
Well, we all know – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But it WAS built – - – eventually.