My Road Goes Ever On
Multitasking Disorder is hardly a professional diagnosis but rather a personal observation that when doing too much, I miss the wonders of life.
A late summer evening is the perfect time to sit on the backswing and simply be with the natural world. Dinner accomplished, house clean-up complete, and my daily to-do list driven into submission, I finally have “free time” to relax in the serenity of my backyard.
I ignore the mosquitoes that have the temerity to attack, despite their seasonal end. Insects that fly in my face or land on my person remind me why the first frost won’t arrive soon enough.
The gray & white cat, (Cheddar) brother to the orange cat (Bradley)—who he attacks every chance he gets—is stretched out on the seat next to me, tidying up his curly coat. I’ve never understood sibling rivalry, so his extreme antagonism to his littermate bewilders me. But in a sincere effort to keep peace, Bradley luxuriates inside the house, (especially loving the kitchen) while Cheddar dominates the yard.
I remind myself that I am here to enjoy nature. Rest my mind. Take it easy. Stay out of trouble…
Dutch, our husky dog, trots over and begs for pets and pats. I do my best, though when I give a little, he tends to howl for more. A simple greeting suddenly becomes a wrestling match. I remind him that I am not here to play. I am enjoying nature! He proceeds to attack a pine cone and show off his fine motor skills. Clare, our collie, has no intention of being left out of the action. Thankfully, she is easily satisfied with a few head pats and strolls over to the back porch—where she is not allowed—and helps herself to the cat food leftovers.
I resist the teaching moment and remind myself that I am not going to get distracted. I am supposed to be relaxing…
I can hear my daughters chatting and laughing in the kitchen, so my sense of peace reasserts itself. All is well. There is nothing that I really must do at the moment.
Cricket calls, cicada melodies, frog croaks, the distant hum of a lawnmower, and birdsong fill the air like a nature orchestra, reminding me of the two springy crickets that jumped from my mop this afternoon. I managed to secure them in a glass jar and resituated them outside, hopefully in better pastures. The mystery of crickets’ long history of invading the basement has never been solved. I drop that conundrum in the, “I’ll never know” pile of life’s questions.
Memories of my attempts to stick to my daily-do list leave me humbled. One thing always leads to another. Pretty much everything takes more time than I imagined. I multi-task out of sheer desperation that I’ll never get everything done if I don’t combine my efforts. Unfortunately, attempts to talk on the phone and make dinner at the same time have resulted in some not-so-savory meals. Chatting on the phone and typing at the same time have created miscommunication on all levels. Editing does not go well with anything, except breathing.
And yet, as I relax in the harmonious (and sometimes disturbing) world of nature, I realize that multi-tasking is not a crime. It’s a part of our human existence. Breathing, eating, and conversing with family go well together at dinner time. Sitting under the canopy of swaying pine trees, patting dogs, resting companionably with cats, and listening to bird songs elicits a sense of well-being unmatched by anything on my usual “fun” list.
I suspect that, like everything in nature and reason, balance matters. Frenetic attempts to get “everything” done speak more to the “whips of Sauron” and priority confusion than the value of managing life in harmonic style.
Satisfied now, the dogs plunk down in contented peace, while the cat ambles off on his nightly prowl. The birds and insects have settled with only a few lightning bugs dodging about like carefree fairies. Even the wind seems to have taken the night off, and so, as coolness descends, I take myself off to bed and dreamland, where despite a to-do list on my desk, I discover peace in doing nothing.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 18 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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