It seems I have an odd idea of what it is to be “productive” in a day. I’m making a stir fry for supper. I made rice this afternoon, so it would have time to dry out some. I blanched some carrots, so they would cook well. I soaked some <I>wakame</i> in vinegar and water to provide some counterpoints. I also moved the potted <i>etrogim</i> outside, pruned the grapevine, repotted a gardenia; potted up some basil and oregano, rearranged the last of the disordered shelves from Passover and lopped enough forsythia to fill a pair of 60 gallon trash cans. I also started some stock, and washed the dishes from last night and this morning.
Then I said I’d been lazy, because I didn’t make it to the store to get some asparagus and bok choi.
In the shower I was thinking about why it is that not getting to the bodega caused me to, honestly, consider I’d been lazy. MBF says that because I can get so much done in a day, I tend to valorise getting more done. For my birthday one year Maia got me a book. The title is something like, “Advice for Men Who do Too Much”. I can’t say I took it as well as I might. It was nice, but I confess I saw it as a semi-critical comment on my not getting enough of the right sorts of things done.
Which is a failure on my part. I see myself that way (and perceive others as seeing me that way) all together too much. It’s not that I think I don’t get things done, it’s that there are some things I see as essential for the day to be done properly. It probably comes of being criticized for that sort of thing. It didn’t matter that I’d turned a couple of cu. yds. of earth for the garden if I’d failed to get the carpet vacuumed, or the dishes done, or some other; fairly trivial thing.
So the measure of productive/not lazy isn’t so much the quantity of work which is done, so much as it is that certain; specific, and fairly visible, things were achieved. What’s horrid about this is that many of those “failures” both make me defensive, and are completely personal. No one at home thinks that a lack of bok choi is going to ruin dinner, but I still feel I have failed at the deeds of the day.
Not today, not really, but in general. I have the sense that something I did, which wasn’t getting bok choi, was undeserved, wasted, a pointless distraction from what I ought to have gotten done. It’s my internalisation of the Puritan Work Ethic.