“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~William James
I owned a convertible. It is a fantastic little thing and for about a month in the spring and fall here in the South, I can actually ride around with the top down without burning up or growing ice sickles. It was mine and I loved it.
The one problem with convertibles is that you really cannot toss all of your excess stuff in the floorboard or the backseat. You are forced to keep the interior of the car relatively clean. This is not a concept that I was accustomed to, being an SUV girl before my convertible conversion. It is, however, a lesson I learned quickly while driving down I65 at…well, let’s go with 70ish MPH…with the top down. Everything in my backseat was blown out of the car and onto the interstate…or other people’s windshields. (If you were behind me on I65 that day please accept my apologies).
Every problem has a solution and I decided to tackle this one. Though, I bought this car for all the wrong reasons…she was pretty and shiny and calling my name on the dealer’s lot, I was practical enough to ensure that my new baby girl had a few things I needed, one being a large truck.
After the fiasco on the interstate, I learned quickly to put all my stuff in the trunk from now on. That way, when I wanted to feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, no one else had to suffer all my stuff flying into their windshield. There would be plenty of time to sort through all the “stuff” in my trunk later!
This solution worked beautifully for well over a year. I just kept tossing stuff into the very large trunk. Until one very cold, icy and snowy morning on my way to work I heard the dreaded thumping sounds that can only mean one thing – flat tire.
Pulling the car over into a parking lot, I considered my predicament. I knew the car came with a spare tire, the saleswoman assured me that it did and she was nice and loved animals so I took her at her word. Though I had never seen this theoretical spare tire I was certain that it lived somewhere in the rear of the car. The owner’s manual would certainly verify its specific location, if I actually had an owner’s manual in the car. So doing the next best thing, I called my cousin who owns virtually the exact same model convertible. She is the kind of person who would know where the spare tire is located, of this I am certain!
Now onto problem number two: I do not know how to change a flat tire. Yes, I realize that this flies in the face of every feminist bone in my body, but in my defense I worked for a law enforcement agency surrounded by macho men in uniforms. I never HAD to change a flat tire as there were always plenty of guys around who would volunteer to do that task for me. It was a theory that worked this time too. A phone call later and there was a lieutenant getting off of work who was now on his way to help me.
Another problem down and one more to go: I had not actually SEEN the carpet in my trunk since I bought the car. So, in a crowded parking lot under the watchful eye of morning commuters I begin to clean out my trunk. Four large, overflowing, black garbage bags later I had unburied mounds of papers, a few outfits, several pairs of shoes I had forgotten about, a couple of leaking bottles of water, some now unrecognizable groceries that has escaped their bags and hid under papers, a bag of dog food, junk mail, and a few bills that I could have done without finding.
So there I stand, in the freezing cold, praying that the helpful Lieutenant gets stuck in traffic and thus buys me a few more minutes. I cannot understand where my once great idea had turned into a molding, stinky mess that is now squished into all available space in my car. It was a great theory! More importantly is had worked beautifully for quite awhile! Toss all the stuff into the trunk, it stays safe and out of the way. I would get to it eventually, but in the mean time I got to carry on with my wonderful convertible ride. That is, until today.
So, how much stuff are you carrying around in your trunk? What items are you pushing to the back of the pile with some theoretical plan to get to them eventually? The finances you are drowning in? The ending of a marriage that you thought would last forever? The mother who walked out or the father who told you that you could never be good enough? Anger over the loss of loved one gone too soon? The job you thought you could retire from lets you go because of the economy?
The things that we carry around with us help to define who we are. They shape the filters through which we see the world. They help to control how we act and react. They shape what keeps us burdened. They guard what keeps us in shame. They weigh us down and prevent our ability to accept new and wondrous things into our lives, because we have no room. They contaminate everything they surround until all that is left is a garbage bag of moldy, smelly “stuff.”
Our greatest delusion is that one day, when the time is right, we will go through everything and deal with it then. We will set aside time to sort things out. We will get to everything when things calm down and life is a little less hectic and we can better handle the stress. No matter our best intention, this is always a delusion. The time will never be right. Life will never be less hectic. You will not be any better or worse at dealing with the stress tomorrow than you are today. If you keep putting it off, it will one day be harder, bigger, scarier, and stinkier to deal with and too overwhelming to even think about.
Life, rather than you, will determine the time and place that you face the challenge you have been putting off for years. The likelihood that it will be that nice quiet spring day with the birds singing outside the window and the kids at their grandmothers for the weekend is very, very slim. You are more likely to be standing on the side of the road, slipping on ice in 20 degree weather and explaining to your boss that you have no idea when you will be in to work.
There is nothing wrong with shoving your stuff into the trunk, it is, after it is all why you have a trunk in the first place. The trick is cleaning it out before the smell of rotting fruit starts to invade the cabin. Its a long, tiring, decidedly annoying and head ache inducing job. The upshot is that you get exceedingly better gas mileage and you have extra room for all of the wonderful, glorious new stuff that life has to offer…like the yearly sale at Macy’s!