Days later I am still not finished with the great driveway project – but it is coming along.
And it gave me lots of things to meditate on as I was sitting on a boogie board at ground level, stuffing smelly brown-that-dries-black goo into the space I had just cleaned dirt and leaves and seeds and tiny onion bulbs out of.
On motivation: I can stick with something long enough to see it done. I’m going to turn that around and reward a job well done with WEEKS of putting the writing first.
Seasons: Apparently driveway management in NJ is seasonal – the stores order their goo in the Spring, and don’t replenish in the Fall past a certain point. When I ran out, I had to do some calling and driving, just to find some more goo – or would have had to leave it undone until next year. And the stuff in the stores is getting old – it had a white mold or crystallization or something on the top (I didn’t feel like examining too closely), so I just removed that layer and tossed it. The goo smells bad enough anyway – I hope I don’t have to replace the stuff from the current bucketful next year because it all rotted. Judgment call: waste a sunny morning getting more, or put the possibly-tainted stuff in. Heck, good enough. In it went. And I have to blow the leaves out of the space before starting, every day. It is now Fall – and better, Indian summer. The leaves are out in amazing colors. I have had the very great pleasure of sitting outside for hours on a gorgeous day, because I had something useful to do.
Energy: I kills me to have to do it: I get out there, work an hour or two, max, and then take myself in and put myself down for a nap. If I’m lucky, I get to repeat in the afternoon. I couldn’t do the second shift today – just no way to drag out the energy to sit. Most irritating. EVERYTHING takes energy. Even sitting on the ground.
Pain: Probably just as well I can’t keep it up too long – getting up and stretching, especially all the little joints in the hands (you do a LOT of work with your hands, without realizing how much). We have a long driveway. And this is a once-in-a-lifetime job. Never again. Okay, after next Spring when I see how well it did, I may fill in any little settled spots (before they fill themselves with yard debris and soil). But after that, never again. This is my last driveway. For life. Huh. Odd thing to say, since it’s also my first, but true. Knowing I’ll never do it again lends the job a bittersweet edge.
Practice: I’ve gotten quite good at it. Of course. It’s either get better – or give up. True of lots of things. So I’m good at something else I’ll never do again. Huh!
Music: I made the effort, loaded up the music player, located the headphones, and remembered how much I enjoy doing something like weeding or painting or… with favorite music on. This year the weeding was done with a helper, so I was a bit more social instead of losing myself in sound. I used to listen when I could go for long walks by myself, but I can’t walk right now (though I hope I’m working on that) – so I had lost the music pleasure. Many writers use music as part of their process, but I can’t write with ANY sound, including music. CFS makes multitasking difficult, and the brain cells are needed for thinking.
Perfectionism: We are talking about applying brown sticky goo. There is no perfect. If I cleaned up every time I got a bit out of the groove, I’d go mad. And the edge of the driveway I’m trying to preserve is irregular, anyway, with bits missing that have to be filled in. So I’m going to have to live with not perfect – which I won’t even notice pretty soon. It also made me far more tolerant of the job the driveway sealers did – also not perfect, and quite good enough. I was grateful they did that part – pushing gallons of sealant around – as well as they did. Not walking well goes with not standing well, either – and it would have been hell for me to do. I am grateful for ALL the helpers.
Flexibility: There isn’t a job I haven’t tackled (okay, not auto mechanics, heating, or AC, but almost everything else). So if I have to do the odd little fill-in jobs left behind by the pros, I can. It is enabling to know that. I may not CHOOSE to do some of those jobs – but I can if I have to. I’ll figure out how. Even with brain fog and in little job chunks limited by energy. If I want it, I got it. The capacity for learning is still there.
Priorities: I seem to have chosen this time of the year to get a bunch of stuff organized and done – so I could tackle the big job (and continue it after I realized it was bigger than I thought). I’m actually getting more done in smaller units of time by pre-planning. In spite of the brain fog and lack of energy. Getting the stuff out of my head and onto paper (or into a Scrivener project – newly learned software), and then organized into a daily plan actually works.
Tools: The amazing multipurpose flat-blade screwdriver is a wedge, a pry-bar, a stirrer, a digger, a cutting implement, and a very narrow trowel. The gardening cart, with a seat and storage that holds a bucket and trash bags and tools for weeding, is also a great little dolly for carrying the brown goo around next to me. I figured out how to use the power washer, and dug out the leaf blower/vacuum combination to get the debris out of the groove.
Hands: Human hands never cease to amaze me. They move in so many directions, have so many different functions, can adapt to all kinds of tasks from sewing on spangles to diamond cutting to, yep, poking brown goo into a hole. They are versatile and can be extended, almost infinitely it seems, with the appropriate tools, and guided by eyes and brain. And I’m wasting this on a driveway?
Meditation: The above – and much else – came after sitting a while with the flow of the job. No distractions: no computer nearby, no phone, and enough dried rubberized asphalt mix on my fingers to make cleanup a serious job (so I couldn’t just pop in to check email) – and so my hands and eyes were focused on a relatively non-demanding job for a good chunk of time, and the brain had plenty of time to free-range. I quite liked it.
And at least I get a blog post out of it. And, soon, I hope, a chance to use the focus on something worthier. Fiction doesn’t write itself, you know.