Tasks at Hand | Mark’s Remarks

marksEvery year about this time, I tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. That sort of stinks. I look at the summer each time August rolls around and wonder where the time has gone. I make a long mental list of all the things I had hoped to accomplish. As I’ve written before, my list of things to do at the beginning of the summer is laughable. I’m lucky to finish even two or three projects. I really should not look at what isn’t done.

This summer, we had some much needed repairs made to the house. My plan was to have most of the outside work completed by now. Nope. There’s still much to do and there are tasks that have gone unfinished. I plan to complete them, even if I need to wear a jacket and gloves.

I had planned on compiling the family research I’ve been doing for the last many years, preparing it all in a neat, readable form to present to my cousins at our biennial reunion. Only the information I have stored in my head will be available. When I closed up my classroom for the summer, I had intentions of going back in just a few days to retrieve an assortment of boxes to sift through.

You see, my file system last year was sort of an “I’ll do a better job at this later” type system in which I piled up copies in a deep drawer. Those boxes are still there and will welcome me back to school in a few short days.

The family room furniture still needs steam-cleaning, a task my wife requested in May. There are flower beds still in need of mulch. Although the lawn mower was serviced, some of the weeds in the north 40 need to be trimmed, raked, and mowed. The weeds that were pulled up and taken care of in mid-May came back for a late summer visit and brought their children.

There is a short stack of books near the night stand that still have yet to be “cracked.” Several thank-you notes meant to be sent in May or June are still on a “to do” list. What did we accomplish?

Some much needed repairs actually were completed. Things that were needed. The other stuff outside is merely cosmetic. We also spent time together. We rediscovered “Yahtzee” and remembered that everyone in the family likes it. We took small trips and a big one. We spent too much money. We had fun.

I wondered the other day why it bothered me so that some things weren’t finished yet. The cars didn’t get the deep cleaning they needed. Several areas of the house, inside and out, are still in need of attention. I could make a list several pages long.

As usual, when I think too much, I hear answers to questions. They are subtle, but they are clear. The only reason that my dirty cars, my unkempt yard and my unfinished “to-do” list bothers me is because I am a judgmental person. It’s true. You didn’t know that, did you? Yes, I have frequently looked down my nose at other people who had dirty cars, messy houses, and unkempt yards. I admit it. Nose in the air. Snooty. Can’t they find time to clean it all up and get organized?

It more than serves me right to be in this season of my life where it all goes unfinished. Yes, I’m lucky to have accomplished
even one or two of the tasks on that list.

I now find a whole new mindset. What really needs to get done today? Basic stuff. Feeding, clothing, making sure there’s a roof over our head. Some hard work, some joyous play. Love. Hugs, kisses. The list is not long. It’s nice to get it all in perspective and find out what a priority actually is.

So, I put my to-do list over to the side. Yes, I’ll finish a few of those things before school starts and I’ll probably finish a few more before winter. Who knows? Some of it will go undone and will still be on the list come spring. Or summer.

And really, that’s okay.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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