Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 156: The Filing

There's a nice inbox adjacent to my desk that has become the repository of financial documents that I keep. It's got debit card receipts, utility bills, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.

The box is maybe two inches deep. Right now it's almost full. There are files for all the above, and more. The smartest thing would be to file things immediately as they are processed, but I don't always do that. Sometimes it takes the thing overflowing to prompt action.

But the action takes place. The stuff gets filed.

And that's the lesson. The dull stuff has to be done. It's not always fun.

But it takes some time, sometime, to learn this lesson. Thing is, doing the filing applies to just about every endeavor in your life. There will always be detail work that has to be done to maintain your relationships.

Here's a list of some of the things that have to be done, but aren't necessarily enjoyable:
* Cleaning up after your pet. We've got two 50-pound dogs. They eat. You know where this is going. I have to clean up after them outside. And not just here, but at the dog park, etc. You'd be shocked -- or maybe you wouldn't be -- at how many people just let their dogs do their business wherever and don't attend to the mess. (These are also some of my terrorists.) Picking up dogshit is anything but fun. But it has to be done.
* Doing the dishes/housework. This house was built in 1939. Updated with a new bathroom, ceiling fans and a modern upright washer and dryer a couple of years ago, it's a pleasant place to live. It's got hardwood floors, big old windows (drafty and completely energy-inefficient, BTW), a nice deck, and plenty of trees/foliage. What it doesn't have is a dishwasher. I'm the dishwasher. When we were looking for a new place to live, we spent days and days and days driving around, looking. We totally stumbled on this place, ideally located near the U, the park, the main drag. Perfect. But... no dishwasher. I had to agree to dishes duty for a year to seal the deal. I don't always do them, but I almost always do them. And I don't like it. I also don't like cleaning up dog hair, dusting ceiling fan blades, vacuuming. I need one of those Jane Curtin-as-Prymaat-Conehead aprons that says "I Hate Housework." But the work has to be done. And being the person around here without a real job these days means I have to contribute something useful.
* Car stuff. Yes, this traditionally falls to the guy, but it's even more pronounced in a household where half the driving contingent only learned to drive five years ago. Some basic things like changing wiper blades, checking tire pressure... bleah. But, gotta.

But it's not just gender-traditional things that have to be done. Look at the bigger picture. Your personal relationships require filing, too.

In an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" someone -- I think it was Jeff Garlin -- makes a comment about Larry David's uber-casual, rumpled outfit. Larry says "I'm married - I can wear whatever I want." When you settle into a relationship, your natural laziness can re-establish a foothold. It's not just love relationships that are at risk. Family, friends, work relationships each require attention.

Consider houseplants. Some are pretty hardy, but without watering them and tending to them at least occasionally, they're going to wither and die. Relationships are the same. You've got to water them. You've got to pay them attention. You've got to do the filing.

Maybe this seems obvious to some of you, but it wasn't to me for a long, long time. I've got the trail of fractured relationships to prove it. I feel badly for the mistakes I made, the inattentiveness that I displayed. Ignorance is no excuse. Being unaware that I'd have to work at sustaining relationships doesn't excuse my damaging them. The inbox overflowed. I let it.

You've got to keep working. You've got to attend to the details.

Now, you're not alone in this. The other part(s) of the equation have to do their part, too. All involved parties have filing to do. One can do more, but only for a while. If the work falls solely to one person, the relationship is doomed.

I'm a movie lover. One of my favorites is Stanley Kubrick's dark take on Vietnam, "Full Metal Jacket." The first half hour is astonishing, a visceral trip inside the hell of a Marine boot camp. The undisciplined, lazy Pvt. Pyle is a constant irritant to the hardass drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. Pyle is a "non-hacker." On an obstacle course, Pyle fails to climb a wall. Hartman rips him, asking if he expects to "miracle his ass" up there.

You can't expect to reach your goals by magic. You're not going to be able to "miracle" your ass up there. You're going to have to do the work. You're going to have to do things that aren't fun. You're going to have to do the filing. Best to learn and accept this as soon as possible. Now would be a good time.

No comments:

Post a Comment