“Not one of us ever grows up to be what he intended to be. Not one of us fulfills his own expectations, Travis. We are all our own children, in that sense. At some point, somewhere, we have to stop making demands.” (From The Green Ripper, one of the Travis McGee mysteries by John D. MacDonald.)
Ronfucius and I had just finished playing our usual mediocre rounds yesterday and were bemoaning how our games had deteriorated. Neither of us has played much recently, partly because of weather and partly because of other demands on our time, and we’re just not popping out those nice rounds with regularity. On the other hand, the weather has warmed up nicely and we had a good time needling and laughing our way around the course.
I’ve always been at risk for making life harder than it has to be by trying to live up to self-imposed standards. I can get caught up in how well I’m playing golf or if I’m keeping some project of my own on schedule when no one else cares and it really doesn’t make any difference. In short, I tend to forget the standards are self-imposed, and if I don’t like them, I can change them. I can stop making demands.
Back when I was getting paid for my time, I suppose that made a little sense. No one was telling me what to do from moment to moment, and if I didn’t set a personal schedule and personal goals I was at risk for not accomplishing anything. Eventually that would be noticed and I’d suffer in terms of raises or promotions.
Those self-imposed standards had the risk of sucking the joy out my job, but at least they led to financial rewards and career advancement. Applying those standards to my golf game or my piddly-squat projects risks sucking the joy without any payback. I suspect that means I’d be better off letting some things slide a bit.
I bet no one would notice. Having a good time needling and laughing my way around the golf course and daily life may not be such a bad standard to impose on myself, anyway. I suspect that Meyer, the voice of wisdom in the quote at the top of this post, would agree.
It’s a nice afternoon and the roof of the carport I’ve built still has a few courses of shingles to go. But the roof doesn’t leak and there’s no rain in the forecast anyway, so I think I’ll see how they’re doing at Torrey Pines.
“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or a temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.” (Henry David Thoreau)
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