Saturday, December 30, 2006


The end of the calendar year seems like a good time to think about tail-ends --- all those unfinished tasks and projects. Is it my imagination, or with advancing age, are there more of them than there used to be?

It seems that before I can finish one project, I've veered off into another one. Now I make lists of pending tasks, trying to assign priorities and deadlines. Take yesterday. I spent most of the day at church, reorganizing the cupboards and file cabinets in the office work room. I accomplished this task in a general way, but there are several tail-ends: a drawer of old files that need to be evaluated, sorted and relabeled, a drawer of old bulletins to be transferred to the archive, a pile of old file folders that should be thrown away. None of these tail-ends are complicated, but they'll take time to finish, and in the mean-time, I'll add them to my lists.

There are a few more Christmas cards to send to people whose cards we received but to whom we did not send. I promised to make three turbans for the Three Kings at church --- an enjoyable task, but one, that once again, takes time. There are tail-ends of sewing and mending: a hem to take up, a hat to trim, a pillow to cover, a bag to make (out of the tail-end of fabric left-over from the pillow --- tail-ends create more tail-ends!)

I like to write, but the list of writing projects seems overwhelming: trip journals, blogs, family history stories. I've begun them all, but they're still unfinished. I don't even like to think of all the computer projects --- transcribing, editing, updating, archiving --- that are on my list of things to do.

Maybe making lists is part of the problem, though I don't know how I'd get along without them. When all the tail-ends are chasing each other around in my mind, the only way to get relief is to write them down. But once I've commited them to paper, they leave my mind, and tend to be over-looked, if not forgotten. I've lost any feeling of urgency about them.

More profound than unfinshed projects, are tail-ends to relationships and stages of life. My father's recent death, coinciding with an illness that I've thankfully recovered from, has made me think about the tail-end of life. In the past, I wondered how my parents' lives would end; would my mother or father die first, and what would be the causes of their deaths? Now I know, and that knowledge leads me to think about the end of my own life (still many years away, I hope!) Dad's death also means the end of the family home, the house he and Mom built 56 years ago, and of my sister's and my relationship with our home-town. Associated with that are all the tail-ends of belongings that will need to be sold, recycled, donated, and disposed of.

All of this pondering about tail-ends sounds depressing, so I balance those feelings with the thoughts of new beginnings: the wedding we'll attend next week, new babies in the family, the fascinating development of the grandchildren. A new pastor at church. Perhaps even a new way of dealing with all the tail-ends. This year, my resolution is not to list and finish all the tail-ends, but to list them, then cross off half the entries. (Yes, simply eliminate all the unfinished tasks I can responsibly abandon.) I hope to do the same with my possessions --- eliminate half of them. (I must assure my husband that these resolutions will not apply to him; some people thrive on complexity rather than simplicity --- but that's another topic!)

Keep in touch. We'll see how this new year goes and in twelve months, what has happened to the tail-ends.


Post a Comment

<< Home