To Do

I like to stay busy; being busy makes me feel accomplished and passes time nicely. I like to create a “to do” list each week and try to follow it closely and stay busy. Being busy is like raising cattle; they are beautiful as long as they are inside a fence but they are frightful if they defeat their boundaries and go off unchecked. I think I found out this week that being busy can also distract me from the things most important in life.

Lisa and I went for Sunday brunch at my nephew’s home. Jamie and his wife, Kristy, recently had a little boy and named us as godparents. Casey was in great spirits and we all got to hold him then enjoyed a breakfast consisting of more food than we usually eat in two meals. The good company and good food are something that I felt deeply and will remember for a long time. It made such an impression on me that I can visit the memory quite readily.

I worked a short shift at work on Monday. I was home by three that afternoon and really got some work done. Just before Lisa arrived home, I thought I heard a kitten meow. There is a bird that sounds like a kitten and I dismissed it as such. The meow did not stop, however and grew louder as I approached our barn. I found a tiny kitten had fallen a couple of feet in the four inch gap between the wall and manure board of the barn. We have fed a stray cat this winter and I suppose this was her kitten and she’d been unable to retrieve it during a move from barn to hayshed. I got the kitten out and introduced it to Lisa as a “complication.” Truth is, he wasn’t complicated and simply wanted food and comfort and spent much of the next 12 hours tucked under a blanket with Lisa or under my chin on the couch. We are pretty “cat rich” around here already and the Humane Society took the little guy in for us, they are such a good organization.

Part of being busy is to get to the gym three or four times a week; it’s another thing to do on my list. I was about halfway through a set of pull-ups when I realized something; this really isn’t work. Every time I contract my muscles it forces my mind to focus and it drive’s the busyness right out of me. Before I had arrived to work-out, I had thought that I really didn’t get much done this week. As important as exercise is for my body, it’s best work was going on in my mind. In a rush of thought, I quickly considered how when my own cloud of priorities cleared, the things that really meant something to me had nothing to do with work or feeling accomplished. Having brunch with a four month old child and having a hand in saving a four week old kitten are what floated to the top of my consciousness when the muddiness of my own mind was cleared by the clean water of physical exertion. I had accomplished much this week and it had little to do with my list.

Work ethic is wonderful and much needed while performing a task. It shows good character and a sort of honesty that is hard to fake. The only time it goes bad is when the work becomes all your character and the only measure by which you judge yourself. When I compare my “to do” list to egg-bake and rolls shared with family, effort to help a helpless kitten or time spent using my body to work on my mind; I think I should re-name this list as “TO DO when the important things are done.”

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