Goofs and Gadflies

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Getting Your Ducks in a Line

As Jews all over the world once again start packing for their week long exodus from Egypt (and bagels, for that matter), my thoughts fall esoterically towards the nature of progress. We all have that friend, the one who's day-timer is more rigidly structured than the Eiffel Tower, right? "I'm going to be at this place until this time with these people, then I am going to meet so-and-so for a drink at this place..." People who overschedule their lives are the unluckiest sorts of all. Do you really envy that person who over books themselves worse than a doctor with two ex-wives? I have a chronically under used day-timer. A neglected keeper of the comings and goings of my days. If the truth be known, I am not an organized person. My life contains enough un-filed paper to build a small paper city. The real question them becomes this: Am I risking future success and happiness by not being an organized and super productive person? Is progress achieved through the taking of steps, or through the measuring of those steps?

I think about those Dilbert strips where Wally jokes about having to fill out time cards and say something pithy like "never has so little been measured so much". I'm not a nine to five guy and I don't punch a clock. So I don't know what it would be like to arbitrarily measure the time I spend on an account, or to quantify how much money it is worth to the company. Like Dilbert says, "the hour I spent in bed and in the shower thinking about how to solve the problem don't count. But the 15 minutes I spent waiting to photocopy my time sheet at work does count?" - I'm paraphrasing here, but the point is clear. Monitoring productivity is hit and miss at best. Who really knows if measuring something as transcendental as thought is possible?

It's all about getting your ducks in a line. The ducks are metaphors for the responsibilities and notions of progress one should conceivably want for themselves. This is the plotline for the movie "A Lot Like Love" with Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. Which I went to see with my best friend (who happens to be female), when it opened in Toronto this Friday. The movie is *not* an update on Say Anything or When Harry met Sally. This movie is about two people who find out that life is like that Swiss yodelling mountain game on The Price is Right. You dance to the tune, move up the line, and through no fault of your own you sometimes crash over the side of a mountain. No fear, just soldier on and start over. Find a new passion. Find new ducks.

Well, I don't think I want my ducks in a line. I'd rather have them in a circle. A daisy chain of Quail. Of course that is the justification of someone who is chronically disorganized. One who likes to fuck the duck if you will. At least I am not chronologically disorganized. I have a friend that has *never* been on time for anything, ever. This friend misses wedding ceremonies, workout sessions, dinners, you name it and she was late for it. So while I am personally disorganized, this realm of mess does not affect anyone other than me. I take my responsibilities as a friend very seriously. I keep my time commitments with friends and associates because I respect their relationship to the clock.

On the other hand, we have those people who fly by the seat of their pants. Making plans with them is like playing Plinko with Bob Barker. Even when you think plans are set, at the last minute you go from $10,000 to holding a giant cow-chip in your hands. And we are not talking purely about dating situations here. Ken pretty much has that covered, and I heartily encourage everyone to read the entire series "The Non-Dating Life". It's bad enough getting stood up by a date, as Ken discusses, but what about getting stood up by a friend? What about the friends who are just sketchy when it comes to making plans with them? Not that they act out of casual disorganization but out of a innate discourtesy, waiting for a better plan to appear at the last minute. We all have a friend who has treated us as a "back-up" plan. Those are the people who like to get their ducks in a line, take ten steps back with a BB Gun and have at it.

So, there be the ducks. Work, friends, love, family, they comprise the ducks that we surround ourselves with. I see examples of people who curried favor with the work duck while leaving the love and families ducks to trail behind. I've also known people who lived for their families and held any kind of conspicuous consumption in disdain. The truth is that life is a series of impulses, a connection of motivations. We like the bright and flashing lights of Baby Einstein as a child. We want to drive the big red truck as toddlers, and we all want to be astronauts or Indiana Jones when we are twelve. There are no ducks in a child's life. We create the ducks as we get older because we need to find our own answers. The perspective of our parents ceased to be the end all and be all of the topic. We became adults and we needed some order. That's the nature of progress. Going over the mountain and starting over with a new pair of boots. We either pick up the adventures our parents started (like Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker) or we go off on our own, to begin the neverending story of our life. Then we spend the rest of our lives wondering if we did good.

Measuring the notion of progress by looking at the ducks in a line. Not by how many smiles we created on the faces of other people. Not by measuring the lessons we've learned. We measure progress in volume. I'm not a half-empty cup kind of guy. I'm not a half-full cup kind of guy either.

I'm just a thirsty guy.


  • Damn, I like the way you write, boy. Hey...just curious...does your perpetually tardy friend go by "Comrade"...? Just wondering...I know her to be an attention seeker...

    But back to you. I'm a tad concerned about your repeated references to mind-melting daytime quiz shows. I can get over it though. More importantly, I need to express that I adore your love of life...your non-compulsive attitude. Quite refreshing in a blog-land of loonies (myself included).

    By Blogger Sandy, At 11:33 PM  

  • The Comrade patiently waits for me on most occasions. She is very accepting of the trouble traffic can play on a suburbian boy trekking down to the heart of the city.

    I watched a lot of television as a child. I soaked up every visual I could find. I now find myself armed with a wealth of kitschy knowledge that innocently slips into my blog posts. Next week I'll be writing about Monty Hall and Alex Trebek. Both Canadian you know.

    I'm genuinely complimented by your observations. We would enjoy a series of afternoons together. Galleries, protests, all-u-can-eat dessert bars, we could have a lot of fun together. Do they do blogger get-togethers? I'd go to New York or Vegas for a Blogger Convention.

    By Blogger Rye, At 11:28 AM  

  • you... are adorable and i will be back to see more .

    your newest fan

    By Anonymous steph, At 10:31 PM  

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