This I Believe

Patricia - Saint Louis, Missouri
Entered on March 4, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I believe starting is good, but finishing is divine. At the beginning of a project, I burn with enthusiasm, but near the end, I have to force myself to finish. I silently promise that I will pick it up again, but then, I don’t.

One example of this is I don’t finish books. As I near the end of a story, I experience some kind of separation anxiety. It doesn’t matter whether the characters are fictional or non-fictional. I dread losing these people with no guarantee of a sequel. I’ve mentioned this to some of my avid bookreading friends and they find it strange. They actually reread their favorite books. In my world, if you know how it ends, why read it in the second place? When I quit a book, I literally avoid closure.

The results are stacks of unread books.

My most recent finished project was a 40 page scrapbook of my trip to Peru. My husband and I took a 10-day adventure trip to Machu Picchu. After returning home, I vowed to document this incredible vacation and set a self-imposed deadline of January 1. I arranged more than 150 photographs into individually designed pages complete with day to day journals. It took more than three months but I completed the book on New Years Eve. However, I have decades of family photos in boxes still staring back at me crying for my attention.

Five years ago I decorated a pair of my daughter’s ice skates she wore as a child. It was a good idea at the time, a Martha Stewart project. I almost finished it in time for Christmas. In fact, I wrapped them and presented them to her along with a disclaimer that I would keep them awhile and eventually finish painting and varnishing them. Unfortunately, her Christmas gift from five years ago is still in my closet.

I try to understand the psychology of my incompletes. I’ve proved that I’m capable of adhering to deadlines. After all, I’m not a total loser. I returned to school in my forties and finished my degree which I had left twenty years earlier. So what is it? Boredom? Laziness? Do I lack organization? Self-discipline?

Then I became a grandmother. I feel the pressure of time even more. I accomplish even less when my grandson is around, but in his case, less is more. Time stands still when we are together. We read books, play games, share food and I realize that everything in this divine life is time-sensitive.

This awareness offers me hope as I recognize my capacity as a complete human being. Projects that remain unfinished likely give my life purpose. Birth, growth, change and mortality are like my unread novels. Life goes on and even when I know that my life will end one day, I choose to ignore it. I can’t help wonder about the sequel. I’m hoping for reincarnation so I’ll have the time to finish up.