Not long before she died at age 92, my mother described her vision of heaven: “Lots to do and plenty of time to do it.” Mother was not describing a place but a state of being. Her favorite state of being was to be doing. If Hamlet had asked Mother whether to be or not to be, her advice might’ve been, “Cut the soliloquy and do something!” Though she was a creative thinker, her retort to Descartes could’ve been, “I do, therefore I am.”
I inherited Mother’s “do” gene: her propensity for making impossibly long to-do lists, her ardor for multi-tasking, her weakness for piling just one more obligation onto a plate that is already heaping full. All this flies in the face of the current personal development movement that urges us to slow down and focus simply on “being.” I’ve attended the seminars, read the books. Still I awaken each morning thinking about all the “stuff” I’ve gotta do and wondering how I’m gonna get it done.
I’m reluctant to label myself as retired, but I surely echo the retirees’ lament: “When did I ever have time to work?” I’ve had no time to “work”—in my case work means to write—since last fall when I wrote an article for an environmental journal. My intent was to write similar pieces for other publications, but by the end of each day, I’ve had so much “stuff” to do, my brain is too tired to research, interview, and write.
And then there are these personal essays that started out as weekly newspaper columns decades ago, evolved into occasional emails to friends and family, and now I suppose qualify as a blog. The thing is, does the world really need another blog? According to technorati.com, there are more than eight million blogs online already. A new blog is created every 7.4 seconds. You can go here to watch a depressing, real-time tally of daily blog posts. The numbers spin faster than wind chimes in a hurricane.
Who has the time, much less the interest, to read all that? Who needs it?
That’s what I asked myself all winter while pretending I didn’t have writer’s block. Writing is like taking your clothes off and running naked through the public square. That’s why Facebook makes me uncomfortable. I read some of the stuff people post and wish they’d put their clothes back on. When I make a judgment like that, I have to wonder if I’m among the less-than attractive nudies. That’s the block I’ve been facing for months. Writing is scary.
My mother was a writer of Christian education materials. I wonder if it ever scared her. We never talked about that. I recall only that she didn’t appreciate being interrupted when she was writing. I’d give anything for an interruption right now. Somebody, please call. Please send an urgent text message. Otherwise I’ll have to hit “send.”