Check Mark Guy

It’s ten-oh-three on a Saturday morning and I haven’t written a single word for this week’s Saturday Morning Ramble. Well technically, I have banged out nearly 30 at this point. Milestone! High fives all around.

Normally, by this time the page has been filled, edited, parts completely re-written, a few things added, posted on the blog page, a few pictures cropped and added, and then finally proof-read by my wife. At this point, at ten-oh-six on this Saturday, I’m not so much on schedule.

We’ll chock up this deviation form the normal Saturday morning routine to anticipation realization. That’s it. That’s a workable excuse. I’ve spent the last 3 days personalizing and packaging copies of PUSH for the US Postal Service. Finally, after a few design alterations and numerous edits of text, it’s in print and, more importantly, in bubble envelopes with addresses on them.

Anticipation realization almost rhymes and it sounds a lot more forgivable than, “I’m distracted, ya’ll.” I’m pretty sure it still falls into the distraction category, but it doesn’t feel as grievous. Maybe I should just embrace temporary distractions and champion their cause. After all, were it not for distractions, magicians would never get away with anything and a magic show would ultimately become a stale, live mini-documentary on how to pull a rabbit… you get the idea.

Truthfully though (I have no idea why I sometimes feel compelled to use that phrase as if I’m announcing to the world that the really deceptive part was cleverly tucked away in the preceding paragraph). A-hem… as I was saying, truthfully, although I try to embrace my creative side, it’s my ability to focus that I prize most highly. Yeah, you read that right, the guy who repeatedly uses phrases tucked away inside of a set of parentheses somehow treasures unbroken concentration.  Anyway… where were we???

Ching Chong TomatoOh, yeah… earlier this week a personal, real life, flesh and blood friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook (that electronic, digital realm that I normally visit to interact with my casual, online friends). I’ve positioned it carefully to the right so that you can enjoy the humor and live out the moment as well.

Why is it that when I “lay me down to sleep,” my brain just punches in for overtime? What’s with that? Why does that happen? How do I turn it off? Nod, if you’ve been there. Raise a testimonial hand, if you can relate. Whereas, I found the meme humorous, I have to confess that it’s been a very long time since I have experienced one of those restless nights.

Maybe it’s because I’m just old, I get up early, and my brain cashes its collective chips in sometime around 9:30 or 10pm every night. Or, maybe it’s because I spend much of my day working my way down a checklist that includes everything from “eat the bagel you toasted,” to “water the plants in the living room.” Each evening concludes with the last few things on the daily checklist:

  • Turn the thermostat down to 72 degrees
  • Put a scoop of food in the cat’s bowl
  • Check the garage to make sure the doors are down and locked
  • Physically touch every door in the house to make sure it’s locked
  • Turn out the lights in the living room, laundry room, and over the stove
  • And… go to bed

Once I lay my head on the pillow, I’m asleep within 15 seconds. My wife hates that part, but that’s how it works for me. And, it’s not a slowly drifting off sleep; it’s a fully realized deep anesthetic slumber that most often lasts until 5am.

I’d love to say that it’s always been that way, but I’ve had my Ching-Chong-Tomato days. Those were the times when I pretty much flew by the seat of my pants, which often involved chasing my tail. I was always busy, rushed, frantic, stressed, and had a hard time expressing what I had accomplished at the end of the day.

There was always something that I didn’t get to when I should have or just forgot about entirely at some point along the way. There were times when I felt overwhelmed or worried about what might happen. Many of the what if’s ultimately turned out to be never were’s, but some of the meant to’s also evolved into full-blown should have’s. I don’t think I ever cherished any of those moments.

It took a little time to embrace the checklist approach, but for someone who used to have to turn the car around a half a mile from home and do another drive by to make sure that I’d closed the garage door, the checklist world brought welcome relief to my restless hamster wheel existence.

Ah… the garage door. I still ask Kathy from time to time, when we’ve broken routine, but for me there’s a stop at the end of the driveway, confirmed by a check in the side mirror when I reach the corner. Those daily turn around and drive back by episodes are down to once every week to ten days, as opposed to every single time I left the house. And, I’m not exaggerating. There were times when I would drive back to my own driveway multiple times to visually check the garage door before I could comfortably “proceed to the route,” as voice-in-the-box puts it.

I got quite a chuckle when that meme popped up and I thought about a time when I used to live it out daily. Now, I smile because I can confidently check it off my list.

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