What can you get done in one week? How much difference will it make if you really apply yourself? Will you be satisfied that you did your best at the end of that week or will you look at the list that still needs to be done with regret? Or chagrin?
This is not just an academic question for me today, it is a practical one. We have a very specific and immutable event coming up next Wednesday that has me thinking about this particular question in a very real way.
This isn't a new feeling either, because we have dealt with other deadlines that require a big push: the first killing frost, the end of a school year, a once in a lifetime trip away from the farm - big events and small events - but events that require a re-assessment of what can be done and what should be done - with only a short amount of time to do them.
And, we have to decide how we will respond to things that are not done.
I have noticed that I, in particular, can expend a great deal of effort for two to three days at a time before I need to back off a little bit. From my perspective, this is a constant source of exasperation. I am usually pleased with the momentum that builds up and I am more than happy to recount for myself how much got done during that burst. There is a certain amount of joy in doing and doing and doing....
But, then something happens that lays down a sizable roadblock and progress is halted. Or, I just realize I need to slow down a little because the pace is unsustainable.
Then I have to figure out how to get that momentum going again.
The reality looks a bit different than it sounds as I write it. It's not quite like I am the Energizer Bunny for three days and then sitting on the porch sipping lemonade for the next week and a half. Farm tasks always need to get done and reality usually doesn't allow complete inaction.
It's simply the difference between feeling like you are making headway versus trying not to lose ground.
This time around, the big event is a surgery to remove my left kidney and the cancer it contains. The recovery time that follows is bound to be frustrating as I realize I will be unable to do many of the things I am used to doing on the farm in the month of May. So, we're trying to do everything we can to prepare - and we're trying to do everything else that we feel we want to have done before surgery too.
It's not possible and we know it.
So, we will do what we always do. We will come to the realization that some things will get done and others will not. Our goals will shrink each day as we identify things we hoped to do that are no longer feasible. I'll berate myself for the half hour I spent with my eyes closed in a chair because I felt tired at midday. I'll question my efficiency and my choices for the tasks I elected to do. And, hopefully, I'll find myself in that special zone that lasts for two to three days and things on the task list get done, one after the other.
The hardest part of this whole process - other than tolerating the surgery, the discomfort that follows, the restrictions that will be placed on me afterwards, and the worry about how all of this will burden Tammy and others - is forgiving myself for the things that don't get done.
I'll put that on my to do list. Right after waking up next Wednesday and saying "well, that's done, what's next?"