Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rationalizations and Word Count Wednesday

A few years ago, I participated in the online Catholic Writers Conference. At the time, I was blogging, but not yet in a routine, and often struggling for topics, so I took a workshop offered by the inspirational Sarah Reinhard. Sarah remains an online writing colleague to this day, and when I find myself struggling to come up with a topic (yes, that still happens), I think back to an exercise she had us do in that workshop. She told us to look around the room, choose an object and use that as the inspiration for a blog.

So today, as I sat down to write this after spending much too much time enjoying myself with a friend at Starbucks, I looked around the room. My eyes lit on a stress ball in the shape of an apple, which had some potential, but apparently not enough because my eyes kept traveling. Across the one lovely, clear spot on my desk and over to the sloppy pile of papers just inches away from the back of my laptop, beside my charging iPad, where distractions in the form of games and emails lurk.

That's when it hit me. My desk is a metaphor for my life.

Lovely, clear spaces take up only a small portion of my mind and my world. The rest -- often the only thing in sight -- often feels like a jumbled pile of things to do, places to go, projects to work on. You know -- life.

And right there on the periphery of it all, neatly packaged distractions lurk. They look innocuous enough, but they're really a Pandora's box. Open the lid, and they all come tumbling out, derailing the most well-planned day and inviting chaos in the form of a to-do list that continues to expand, if only because nothing is being checked off.

Sometimes, it's hard to tell a distraction from a necessary item. While it's clear that delineating the stress reduction and mind expanding possibilities of the games on my iPad is a juicy rationalization, what about the dishes in the sink? Distraction or necessity? Must they really be washed right now during the time I'm supposed to be writing? And just how long can I go without washing them before that becomes a rationalization?

I'm not sure I'll ever get to the bottom of the rationalization conundrum (and I'm pretty sure it's a waste of time to try). Having made myself painfully aware (once again) of the state of my desk, however, I know that within the next week, I'll make progress on its contents, diminishing the pile and enlarging the lovely, clear space.

But it will never be perfect, and that's actually a good thing. Don't get me wrong -- clear space is nice. Tomorrow, for example, I have no appointments -- plenty to do, but nowhere I need to be at any particular time -- making my day the time equivalent of the lovely, clear space on my desk.

But as messy as my pile -- and my life -- may be at times, there is satisfaction in its fullness. While a full desk may be messy, a full life -- even when it's messy -- is a pretty good deal.

"I don't know anyone who could get though the day
without two or three juicy rationalizations."

Cartoon credit:

Word Count Wednesday total: 2958 :-) No need to rationalize that!!


  1. I agree. What a beautifully written ode to a messy desk.

    1. Thanks so much! I'm hoping that by the end of the week, it will be only half as messy….