Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Time slave

I made a schedule for myself. It was the sort of thing I never expected Excel to do for me:

The process of creating it was involved. I'm a consultant, so my work schedule has the potential to be extremely varied. Sometimes I don't leave my house for a week. Sometimes I'm out of town for days at a stretch. Even the most basic decisions, like having a regular bedtime, can be challenging: what about getting up extra-early to get to the airport? What about SKS meetings that run late into the night? How do you account for special occasions?

I always marvelled at the studied craziness of Talmudic law, and how certain Jews would make convoluted arrangements to respect the letter of the law while still achieving their desires: setting timers to turn on ovens during the sabbath, or raising pigs in Israel on raised platforms so they are not "on the land." Yet when I tried to make my own schedule to contain my life, I found myself splitting similar hairs: can you rearrange the schedule? When can you rearrange the schedule? Can you move stuff out more than a week? Who gets to decide if the spirit of the Schedule is being maintained?

It seems like such a simple thing, a patently boring thing: every day I want to sleep, write, exercise, and work the right amount of time. Should that be so hard? And yet when I show the schedule to my friends and family, usually the first reaction I get from people is, "Oh my God", spoken in the same tone as "O my God, you're not actually going to wear that thing," or "Oh my God, what were you thinking when you bought that." I think everyone feels the same claustrophobia when they see the Schedule. A few people, the ones who know me and understand my struggles, will generously say, "I'm really impressed." If nothing else, it demonstrates commitment.



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