We had a particularly wet summer, so that always bodes well for the autumn colors. And, although I appreciate this ephemeral beauty, I wasn't so focused on it while I raked bag after compostable bag of leaves for two freakin' hours on Tuesday morning.
Don't get me wrong, I adore autumn. I love the smell of leaves and wood-burning fireplaces in the night air. I love the sound of leaves crunching under foot. I love the fall flavors offered at my local coffee shop -- pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie mochas, and hot apple cider. And I love the sights as I mentioned before, the lovely trees lined up on my street like Southern Belles in their festive ball gowns.
All except my tree.
This is what mine looks like.
|That's my daughter being helpful with the rake.|
While I was raking, a neighbor approached me and said, "Wow," looking up and down the street for comparison, "you really got dumped!"
Yes, neighbor, I got dumped. Megatons of leaves flitted on my head and my car while I uselessly raked away. I felt like Sisyphus. Ten bags done and you couldn't tell I made a dent.
This made me think about the task at hand. Why was I bothering? Why did I care? What's in this for me?
I was trying to be a good neighbor. I didn't want the street littered with leaves when the rain came that night, creating a slimy slurry that would lay beneath the snow this winter, making driving conditions worse than they already would be. I didn't want the mailman slipping on leaves on my sidewalk and walkway, nor did I want the dog-walkers sliding by, raising their mittened fists at my house. I felt responsible.
I also kept going because I have a completion complex.
If you have ADD, you might have this or you might have the opposite of it. I love finishing a project so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off my literal or mental list. I feel accomplished. That said, when faced with never-ending tasks, knowing full well that the task is bottomless, I still tackle it with gusto. This leads to crushing defeat and self-examination.
I know. I know. It's silly. I should understand the circumstances and give myself a break.
When I worked at a local bookstore in the 90s, I took great pride in the sections I stocked. Every book was flush to the edge of the shelf. I had lovely displays of popular titles. When customers came and took a book, then left it shoved in or left books in a stack in the wrong section of the store -- hello, people, Gloria Steinem does not belong in the "Paranormal" section! -- I would get bent out of shape and correct the problem shelf as soon as I could get off my shift at check-out.
Same with laundry -- why do my kids persist in dirtying their clothes and heaping them in a basket? Can't they just stand back and admire the neat pile of darks and whites assembled on their beds? That took an hour to create, my darlings. ADMIRE IT!
Yet I persisted with the raking and the lack of rewards it gave back to me.
This is what my yard looked like after I raked.
|Yes, I'm aware that the pumpkin is still on the porch.|
And here is my yard compared to the rest of the block.
|Look, my neighbor actually has green grass!|
Cruel, cruel Autumn. You haven't heard the last of me.
Do you have a completion complex like me? Strangely, I have loads of projects that are half-finished. I figured out that is the case because I want everything nicely completed. If I can't do it right, I stop doing it at all. I also get bored easily so if I'm not getting any payoff and I'm not entertained, I'm outta there.
What projects do you HAVE to complete? What projects get the half-done treatment? Why?