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“What a folly to dread the thought of throwing away life at once,
and yet have no regard to throwing it away by parcels and piecemeal.”
                                                                 John Howe 

Do you ever have days where you flit from one activity to another, not because you find those activities fascinating, but because you’re avoiding doing what you need to be doing?  I’m doing that today.  I’m restlessly engaging in one meaningless activity after another.

I’m doing this for no other reason than avoidance.

Instead of working on my novel, instead of fulfilling my commitment of 50,000 words to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m flitting here and yon. Tossing away time.

I’ve tried reading, but I close the book after a few pages.  I’ve gone for a walk with the dogs and taken pictures of the pond.  I’ve washed clothes.  I’ve searched through the pantry for a snack.  Nothing holds my attention, because I know what I should be doing.

And I’m feeling guilty about that.

I find myself feeling guilty about a lot of things these days…

I was at a bookstore yesterday, and the girl behind the counter wanted to sell me the Frequent Buyer’s Card.  I declined, but I felt really, really guilty about that.  I kind of expect a hard sell from car salesmen and Amway distributors. But I was unprepared for the cute little Blond Bookstore Bulldozer.

—“Is there a reason why?” she asked sweetly enough, but I sensed a sleeping dragon beneath the surface.
—Finding myself suddenly mute, I could only shake my head.
—“Have we done something that was unsatisfactory?”
—I worked up the courage to speak.  “No, I just don’t think I want to spend the extra twenty bucks for the card.  But thanks for the offer.”
—“BUT, YOU’LL GET FIVE DOLLARS OFF YOUR PURCHASE!”  I seriously thought she might come over the counter.
—“What can we do to change your mind?”  There was a definite note of pleading in her voice now, and I swear I saw something wet glistening in her eye.
—“What can we do to make your experience with us more meaningful?”
—Uh, how about sell me the book so I can go read it
, I wanted to say.  But, she’d already done a number on me.

Guilt had me in its icy grip.

I’m also feeling guilty about another serious issue.  I think I’m going to buy an artificial Christmas tree this year.  I know, I know, it’s a totally radical idea.  I confess, I’m an anarchist, an “Occupy the Christmas Spirit” Protester…without the signs…without the attitude.  And yes, I know ahead of time that I will miss the redolent scent of a real tree.

Can’t you buy some kind of spray nowadays that sorta, kinda simulates the smell of real conifers?  Probably not.  I went to the car wash last week and told them to use the “new car” scent.  It didn’t smell a thing like a new car.  It smelled like licorice.

So, I’m feeling guilty about disappointing the grandkids with this fake Christmas tree.  But I feel more guilt and dread about shopping at tree lots on the freeway, traipsing down row upon row of woody perennials that have been chopped down in their prime, finding the “absolutely most mediocre” of the bunch, strapping it to the roof of the car, dragging it into the house, wrestling it into the tree stand, watering, watering, watering with expensive packets of preservatives that contain—Sugar, then sitting back and watching daily as needles accumulate like dead skin cells on my floor.

So, here are some alternative choices:

Oh, the guilt…!

I remember a Christmas when my kids were young.  We spent the holiday at my parent’s cabin in the mountains of Colorado.  We went into the forest and cut down our Christmas tree.  (Actually, it was in the National Forest, and now I’m feeling guilty about that.)

Now that was a Real tree.

That tree had a scent all its own.  It had seen things, experienced seasons, provided a perch for birds, a home for squirrels, a resting spot for deer. (Oh, gosh, and we cut it down!)

But, at least that tree had a story to tell.  And well, right now, I don’t.

So here I am throwing away time and feeling guilty about that, too.  I gaze longingly out the window.  The scent of rain rises like a promise on the horizon. There is a tinge of crispness to the air, a sense of being at year’s ebb.  A leaf or two has lost chlorophyll and has drifted languidly to the ground.  

I am most definitely in the Harvest mood.  So, I think I’ll just go outside and throw away a little more life.  Or am I, in fact, gaining Life?

Yes, I’ll go for another walk with the dogs.  

I’ll enjoy La Dolce far Niente.
The Sweetness of Doing Nothing.