'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Saturday, 1 March 2008

Putting it off

A couple of years ago my teenage daughter and I went to Europe.  We spent 3 months together, all day every day, traveling, sharing experiences and often even sleeping in the same bed at night.  We became very close and shared a lot of laughs and had a memorable time.  Took a lot of photos too!  (How could anyone pass by this Firenze shop window?) 
In the final week we rented a villa in the south of France and had nothing much to do but relax, rest and think about going back home.  We found ourselves making resolutions. They involved exercise, healthy diet and, most of all, about doing things before they were overdue.  House maintenance rather than repairs.  Homework handed in before it was due.  Planning the meals and shopping for the week ahead.  That sort of thing.  And we made a pact to support each other.  We even signed the contract.  We were full of that zeal and determination that follows.
But since then we have realised we 'make cakes'.  That is, we sometimes do something else instead of what we should be doing.  Something that is usually more fun (we both enjoy cooking), has a fast reward (you get the heavenly aroma, then eat your cake too), and we also receive a positive response from others ("What's that wonderful smell?")
These cakes can be actual or metaphorical.  Tidying your room instead of doing homework is a common one.  Weeding the garden.  Visiting an old friend or grandparent you hadn't seen for ages.  These aren't of themselves wasting time, but they were not what you should be doing.  In fact, they are usually disguised as Very Useful Or Important Things.  But what you should be doing then ends up being done a. at the last minute b. poorly, or c. not at all.
These days my daughter and I still support each other, but often have to challenge the other "Is this what you are meant to be doing, or are you just baking a cake?"

1 comment:

  1. So true. I enjoy reading your wisdom. It helps me reflect on me and my life.