From the perspective of pitting Things Accomplished against Things I Intended to Accomplish, weekends often seem like a small recurrent allegory for the challenges of life as a whole. On the larger scale, both categories are regularly on my mind – the Things I Intend to Accomplish being along the lines of writing another book, reading the works of the Transcendentalists and taking up strength training, while the Things Accomplished list includes giving birth and developing a writing career.
But on the much, much smaller scale, each weekend has its own lists, and my hope is always simply that by Sunday night I’ll be able to believe that there’s some general sense of balance between the two.
But there never really is. Almost by its very nature, the Things to Accomplish list always outweighs the Things Accomplished, and this weekend was no different. I made several desserts late Friday afternoon and then completed the rest of my preparations for a Farewell Party I was hosting that evening for a friend who is soon moving out of town. Naturally, I overestimated quantities; we have far too many desserts left over, but the baking, the party planning and the party itself can be moved over to my Things Accomplished list, so that’s satisfying. On Saturday I did what felt to me like a lot of housework but doesn’t appear to be much at all when I compare it to all I wanted to get done. Sure, I cleaned up the kitchen from Friday night’s get-together and I ran one load of laundry and folded another, but I didn’t remove the tiny light bulbs that need to be replaced in the oven and microwave as I’d hoped to. I didn’t go through all the boxes stashed in the darkest corner of the attic that are crying out to be sorted. I ran my daily mile, but I didn’t get to those yoga DVDs.
On Sunday I accomplished planning a Sunday school class – it’s my turn to teach Holly’s age group for the next few weeks – and I took the car to the car wash, but that too was nothing compared to what I hoped to get to, which ran more along the lines of reading the New York Times, going snowshoeing, helping Holly to clean out her toy box.
Still, as the weekend ends, I remind myself of the valuable and important moments that end up on neither list. I spent a really convivial four hours with old friends on Friday night. I visited with 50 or so Carlisle acquaintances at a Super Bowl party on Sunday. I took care of children, animals and spouse: all moments whose long-lasting value should not be overlooked, even if they are not as practical as folding laundry.
It’s unclear to me where the fine line is between self-acceptance and complacency. I’m not sure if I should feel good about the party I hosted and happy I had the chance to catch up with still more friends Sunday evening or whether I should focus on all I didn’t do. True, we didn’t fit in any family yoga time this weekend, but I played cards with Holly and helped Tim with some homework; is that good enough?
In the end, both conclusions are probably valid: it’s good to take satisfaction in what you accomplished, and it’s also good to keep striving to improve. I’ll try again for yoga and Thoreau next weekend. For now, I’m still feeling happy about all the time I spent with family and friends over the past couple of days. Surely the oven light bulbs can wait a few more days to be replaced.