I attribute half of the stress I carry on my shoulders to things that I start but never finish. Knowing that I have lots of unfinished things weighs heavily on me. Being unable to finish something bothers me more than being unable to start something.
I thought I’d list some of the things I can never seem to finish here so that you know what I am talking about.
1. Growing a beard. A couple of time a years I get the idea to start growing a beard, only to give up around the two-week mark. Once, I made it three weeks. At three weeks, I stepped into the shower certain I had finally made it over the hump. When I stepped out of the shower, I was clean-shaven. Go figure.
2. Cleaning my desk. I start to clean my desk at least once a week. By “clean” I mean moving something from this side of the desk to that side. Or perhaps, getting rid of a few of the drink containers that have accumulated. It seems like each time I come back to my desk, it is still cluttered. What’s that old saw: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what’s the sign of an empty desk?”
3. Clever comments on Facebook and Twitter. I am the wittiest person on social media, and no one knows it. That’s because I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve started typing in a clever reply to something I saw on Facebook or Twitter, only to stop before clicking the “Post” button. Usually, whatever I’ve decided to write is extraordinarily clever, but I hear myself saying, “You don’t need to prove how clever you are,” and I delete it before posting it. You’re welcome.
4. Cujo by Stephen King. I am a Stephen King fan, as anyone who reads this blog regularly almost certainly knows. But the one book I’ve started, and never been able to finish is Cujo. I just can’t get into it. Once a year, I give it a try, and once a year, I give up after 80 pages or so.
5. Angry email messages. A few times a year I will write a scathing email message, and then not send it. It is supposed to make me feel better, but it rarely works. What was far more effective for me, back in the days before everyone had email, was to write an angry letter, fold the letter into an envelope, and stick a stamp on it. Then I’d shred the letter, envelope, stamp and all. Back then a stamp cost 34 cents. Best money I’ve ever spent on therapy.
6. Mid-season baseball games. When April rolls around, I get so excited about the upcoming baseball season I can barely contain myself. I squeeze in as many baseball games on television as time will permit. But then, there is a lull that lasts for about 100 games. Mid-season, I’ll put on a game that seems like it will be interesting, but I rarely make it past the 4th inning.
7. My Vacation in the Golden Age. I started writing my Vacation in the Golden Age posts in 2011, I think. I completed 40 issues, and then paused for more than four years. I couldn’t finish the 41st issue. I finally finished it, not to long ago, and tried to resume my Vacation. I started reading the 42nd issue—and I haven’t been able to finish that one either.
8. My to-do list. More often than not, I don’t get through everything that’s on my to-do list on a given day. This has become striking more apparent since I started using Todoist. I start each day with the intention of completing everything on the list, and end it with items staring back at me, unfinished. They get moved to the next day, and the cycle repeats itself.
9. Revisions to old stories. I’ve got half a dozen old stories for which I wrote a first draft, but never finished a second draft. I started the second draft, but I lost enthusiasm and set the story aside. I assume this means that the story is no-good, or that I am not yet skilled enough as a writer to handle it properly. Still, it irks me to have those unfinished drafts hanging around, reminding me that even with something I enjoy, I can’t always finish what I start.
I have a 10th example, but I don’t have time to finish this post right now. Kelly and the kids have just returned home, and it’s already past the Little Miss’s normal bath time. Lunches have to be made, and the evening chores need to be done. And there are still 3 items on my to-do list that I probably won’t have time to finish either. So example number ten will have to wait. I’ll finish this later.