Monday, August 23, 2010

Procrastination and Potato Chips

I am a procrastinator. There, I said it. No taking it back.

Webster’s dictionary says procrastination is to postpone something you dread. Here’s the silly part, I procrastinate doing the things I truly enjoy – writing, performing, singing – which makes no sense. If I’m going to put off the things I love, why can’t I procrastinate eating potato chips?

These things I enjoy so much (yet delay doing) are also my work. I guess I still struggle to see how something I love doing, something that makes me feel good to the core, can be called work, can be valued as work. Isn’t work supposed to be, well, work?

Not according to people in the know. Shakti Gawain, in her most excellent book Creative Visualization suggests, “You don’t have to exert effort to get where you want to go; you simply keep clearly in mind where you would like to go and then patiently, harmoniously follow the flow of the river of life until it takes you there.” In The Secret, there is one account after the other of living the life you desire easily, without effort, while enjoying the ride.

I believe this. In concept, it makes complete sense. Yet, that nagging voice in the back of my head keeps saying, “and what do you have to show for your efforts?” There’s the rub.

What I have to show is words, songs that dissipate into thin air, performances that, as soon as the curtain call is over, join the songs in the ether. I have nothing tangible to show for my efforts.

So, I procrastinate – which my synonym finder also calls delay, dawdle, dilly dally. Do I want to be a dilly dallier? I don’t think so.

I can dilly dally and do diddly, or do what I love and at least do something. Seems like I need to come to terms with the obvious fact that who I am and what I do cannot be measured in the tangible. My work cannot be held. But it can (and does?) have value (even if I never know what that value is).

I better go eat some potato chips and think on this awhile.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good People Everywhere

I had a great “people” day last Thursday.

First, I was invited to meet the members of a public affairs firm in Spokane The meeting was the result of a couple of e-mails I sent off to somebody I didn’t know, who called me back, invited me to his house and whom, I’m sure, will become a good friend.

He saw something in my e-mail that said we might help people by working together. I left the meeting feeling good about people and the potential for doing good things for good reasons.

I then stopped by the Volkswagen dealership in Spokane Valley, WA.

Pardon me while I give you the set up: Our old VW (160,000 miles and counting) required a new battery last week. When power is gone from the car the radio goes into a “SAFE” mode which means no music until you reset the thing. You’re supposed to be able to disarm by pressing buttons and entering a code. I did all the right button pushing (I think) but the radio wouldn’t come back on. It just kept flashing SAFE SAFE SAFE.

So there I was at the VW dealership. No appointment. Didn’t buy the car there. I walked up to the service counter. Jeff, the assistant manager, smiled and said something like “hot enough for you?” and proceeded to listen to my rambling story about the radio.

He grabbed a special tool., walked with me to the old Jetta. With a flick of the tool, he popped the radio out of the dash, read a code from the side of the radio, walked back inside, checked the validity of the code on-line, walked back out to my car’s 100-plus-degree interior, pulled a couple of plugs out of the radio replaced them, held down the two buttons. SAFE disappeared as promised and yes, music!

“There ya go.”

“How much do I owe ya?”

“Not a thing”


Then I traveled back to Sandpoint, looking for a place to have an antique pewter flask engraved before sending it to my son for his birthday. I had procrastinated getting it done.

First shop, “Sorry, try the trophy shop in Ponderay.” Then she gave me directions and told me she liked the flask.

Good gift daddy-oh!

The trophy shop. “We can do it, but you want it by when?!!! Kinda poor planning on your part.”

“Yep. Guilty as charged..”

“ No matter. Have you tried the Jewelry Store in the Mall?”

“Nope, wanted to try you first.”

“Here, I’ll call the Jewelry Store for you.”

“Huh? You don’t have to do that.”

“No problem, sorry we couldn’t get it done for you by tomorrow. Maybe they can.” She dialed the phone and handed it to me.

“Jewelry Store. Sure, right up our alley. Tomorrow? No Problem.”

These days do come along. And they come along more often when I remember to serve others as I want to be served.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Grammy's, A Burrito, and a Sick Boy

Friday I walked over to the post office to send off the Soul Appeal Records entries to the Grammy’s. I’m pretty sure my feet weren’t touching the ground. It’s just plain fun to throw your songs into the music industry hat, see what happens.

Once posted, I headed back to the office via a different route, this one in front of the Daily Bee (our local newspaper), where there was apparently a “yard sale” going on. The sale was on both sides of the sidewalk, so foot traffic was funneled through. Yes, I looked. Voila, I found two picnic table cloths (on the list for the camp box), but no prices. I got in line to inquire.

The woman in front of me handed over a twenty for her few items and was on her way. Turns out this was a sale “by donation” and the money was going to a boy in town who has brain cancer. The family, including cousins and extended relatives, were giving up household belongings, sporting equipment, every single thing they could spare to raise money for medical care for the young boy.

Both feet now solidly on the ground, I watched as person after person gave $10, $20, $50 dollars to help a boy they did not know. I watched as the things that were being sacrificed by one family to try and save a life were finding new homes at prices they probably didn’t see new.

When you made a donation, you got a coupon for a free burrito from Joel’s (the best Mexican food anywhere, served up by the nicest people you could hope to meet). So I got Tim and we walked to Joel’s. Joel said, “the coupon is good only on Sundays,” (the day they are closed). “And I was going to tell you how great I thought you were for being so generous and giving,” I replied. We all had a good, neighborly laugh.

While we enjoyed our lunch, a friend from the radio station was chatting with us. “What’s going on over at the Bee,” he asked. I told him. “I’ve got a few spare bucks in my pocket,” he said, “I’ll take it over.”

Tim and I could both feel the tears stinging our eyes.

People want to help. People do not want to see others in pain. People are inherently good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Around the Bend

I just got back from camping at the St. Joe River in North Idaho. Note to self: An air mattress, with two people, just doesn’t cut it. If Tim moved at all, I mean if the guy breathed, it caused a ruckus on my side. I had to hold on for dear life to stay on board. Must have been the same for him because when I suggested separate mats next time, he said, “maybe separate tents.” Looks like the sleeping arrangements need a little work.

First morning I took a hike while Tim got settled in at his fishing spot. I wandered up a creek that feeds into the Joe. Around the first bend, grey headed cone flowers that were at least six feet tall. The next curve opened to a small meadow of Indian Paintbrush, St. John’s Wort, wild Lupine and Phlox. Stunning!

Because of the twists and turn of the path, I could never see what was coming next. I couldn’t see what awaited me until I was on it. A small waterfall, ripe wild raspberries (yum), a hillside covered with flat, red rocks, one of which was shaped like a heart. Around every bend something new, delightful, perfect.

On my trip back, I was thinking how not knowing what came next was exhilarating, seemed to make everything more vibrant and alive. Just like life.

When I am willing to be surprised, to let life unfold, to let go of control (hey, we never truly have it anyway) life is perfect.