Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Projects

An article this morning proclaimed that Wikipedia is just about complete. I read that a couple of times trying to get what that meant. Turns out that even though there are new pages being written, that new ideas remain to be cataloged and explained, the primary base of articles is complete just as it would be in a paper-bound encyclopedia. Wikipedia is pretty much complete. Who would have thought?

I can't imagine taking on a project the size of Wikipedia. I've been thinking about big projects lately. Some are simple to define (write a novel), others are more complicated (become a better person). I get caught up in the bigness and stop often before I've really begun.

Take a common goal: to get in shape. That's so ill-defined. I can make it clearer: lose fifteen pounds, get seven and a half hours sleep, drink water instead of beer and bourbon, run four times a week, and meditate every day. I could go on, I have no problem creating long lists. That's one of my problems.

Even when I nail down just one thing, I fall into a bad habit of setting the goal of doing it every day for the rest of my life. That's as good a way to fail as anything. Or I decide to do it today, hoping that I'll decide the same thing tomorrow. Most times I don't even make it through the day having done what I set out to do.

Maybe I'm just weak. Or maybe I need to re-frame my thinking.

Today I woke thinking that I wanted to feel healthier. I got out of bed, showered, threw some laundry in, and did a few other things around the house. I had a good breakfast, took the girls to soccer, and coached my daughter's team. I came home, threw in more laundry, cleaned the downstairs bath, scrubbed the upstairs shower, emptied the dishwasher, and vacuumed the den. I had a good lunch and drove my daughter to dance. From there I was going to write at the coffee shop.

Then a setback.

I decided not to drive to my usual coffee shop, Cafe Kubal, but instead to walk to another one I like, Mello Velo. I was feeling good about walking instead of driving and the place is a cool spot for coffee and writing, but they have an $8 minimum for credit cards and I didn't have cash. Damn it.

So I walked back to my car. By then I had used fifteen minutes of the hour my daughter would be at dance. To drive to Cafe Kubal and back would take another ten to fifteen minutes and that's if I could find a parking space on the Syracuse University hill on a Saturday. I climbed in my car in the lot, made myself as comfortable as I could, booted my Chromebook, and started typing.

Let me tell you, I'm pretty miffed to be doing this without a decaf macchiato.

I'm able to deal with this setback and I'm still typing, but some of that excitement I had at the beginning has begun to ebb. I need what Wikipedia people seem to have in great quantity: perseverance. As much as anything, that's what a big project needs. I have to be willing to keep going through setbacks, through boredom, through laziness. I have to be willing to go on. Let's see, starting today, how much energy I have to keep going. To write on.