With a cornucopia of things to do at this time of year, Jake Frost offers a tip for bypassing the limits of lists and calendars.
A flock of wild turkeys pays regular visits to our little home in the country and my kids love it. Whenever the turkeys are sighted the call goes out, “The turkeys are here!” and they rush to greet their feathered friends.
In the back part of the property a trail meanders circuitous routes through trees and undergrowth and there, amid the fall foliage, flock and family meet. The kids are always trying to get closer to the gizzard-bearing objects of their fascination whilst the turkeys strive to maintain “social distancing.” The ensuing Waltz-of-the-Wattle is hilarious to observe, as turkeys and children intermingle in a mad melee of merriment.
Appearing suddenly at a bend in the trail will be a gaggle of gobblers flashing by for an instant before plunging again into the bracken. Seconds later will come a passel of my progeny in eager pursuit. Then another band of frolicking fowl will streak across the trail in the opposite direction, followed by another caboodle of kids, only to be followed in their turn by a clucking clique of beaked birds hot on the humans’ heels, so that it’s impossible to tell whose chasing who as children and turkeys weave in and out among tree and brush in a ballet of buffoonery.
That confused, feathered fracas is a perfect image for this time of year. And by “this time of year” what I really mean is: life.
Because there is always so much to do, with everything constantly mixed up, one thing impinging on another, swirling around like the melding of chick and child in the turkey trot at our rural abode.
I long for linearity in life, where one task is begun and continued until completed, whereupon another is commenced, each compartmentalized in neat and tidy orderliness.
Ha! Life laughs at linearity! For life jumbles.
Partly this is accentuated by the spiraling cornucopia of life in which I dwell with five fellow human beings bound together as one family. With six people under one roof, all of different sizes and ages, there is just a lot going on all the time: school, work, crafts, books, friends, cousins, holidays to prepare for (speaking of turkeys, hello Thanksgiving coming just around the corner!), playgrounds to visit, the closet to clean out, getting cars in for service, leaves to rake, dinners to make and birthday cakes to bake. And so on.
Don’t forget the laundry!
Cornucopias are rich and full and bursting with splendor, but also confused. Cornucopias rejoice in jumble.
Balance is the things that’s called for. There are many competing goods, all in play simultaneously, all needing time and attention. So how do you disjumble?
I have one hot tip.
Of course, as a preliminary matter there is The List. When the kids ask me for things or to do things, especially when we’re out and about, I routinely tell them: “Make sure I put it on my List.” For The List is the repository of All-That-I-Must-Do, all of those things which, eventually, must get done. It is the bedrock of my organizational schema.
Then there is the Calendar, which helps establish priorities: take care of Thanksgiving first, then Saint Nick’s Day, then Christmas.
Still, these will only get you so far. I realize full-well the limitations of List and Calendar when dealing with the ever-multiplying demands of daily doings.
Here is where my hot tip comes in: pray.
Pray to God for guidance in setting your priorities. And you can ask God to help you discern what you should do today.
It seems a little thing, but it’s been a big help to me, and I hope it helps you also!
Copyright 2020 Jake Frost
Image via Wikimedia Commons (2009), CC BY 3.0
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.