I was in a waking dream once. I was at the interment service, at the graveside, where the dearly departed had the most ornate coffin I’d ever seen. When it came time to lower it, the most unlikely man came out of the fog of tears. Elmer, wearing a sparkly, red satin, baseball jacket with his name bedazzled in white across the back, began to crank that baby into the ground. That was rough.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of doneness. Everyone has their own idea as to when they’re finished with something. Some people are all about the details. A task is not finished until every conceivable angle is considered and dealt with. Some people only care about the outcome and do what they have to as efficiently as possible to reach the destination quickly. Some people enjoy the process so much that the end game may be put off repeatedly or indefinitely.
My “done” is my husband’s “just getting started”. He’s an extreme finisher. His idea of being done involves closely following carefully predetermined steps to their conclusion. He deviates from his plan only when necessary, monitoring his progress to make sure he’s continually moving forward. When he’s completed the steps and reaches his goal, and he always does, he’s done. He feels a sense of accomplishment and pride.
I’m done when I decide I’m done. If I’ve lost interest or I’m tired or bored or distracted, I’m done. I may come back to it. I may not. Those things that don’t really matter to me, and that category is rather broad, may not get done. My good feelings come when I’ve stopped doing that which pains me.
For example, I finish cleaning the bathroom when I dump out the pail of dirty water the next day, after I’ve tripped over it a couple of times. I have a box full of pictures that will never make it into an album. I don’t even look at the ones that I took the time to put in an album. (What is it with people and their pictures? When asked what they would grab if their house was burning down, pictures seem to be in the top three responses. I’ve never heard anyone mention their kids.) I never finished my wedding memories book and I have no regrets. It was a beautiful, happy day and that’s all I need to remember about it. It’s impossible to take it all in, this life. I’m doing what I can.
I finish the important things, the things that would pain me if left undone. I pay my bills. I finish my work so that my employer will give me a pay check. I take care; I complete the steps when it comes to my kids. I’m planning to finish my marriage and I’m a good 25 years in. No one gives me money to put the scissors back and, therefore, the scissors may remain where I’ve used them for awhile. My husband calls our house a treasure hunt. You’re welcome, honey.
I don’t know how anyone can say that anything is ever done anyway. Someone is always coming up with a way to improve something. We all undo things all the time. We may finish a project, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished with projects. Technically, we’ll not be done doing until the day we die.
Nobody’s going to stand up at my funeral and talk about all the things I’ve left undone. In fact, it will be the opposite. If my eulogy is like any other I’ve heard, it will be about what I’ve done; where I grew up, where I lived, my family, my education, vocation, accomplishments, and hobbies.
I want my eulogy to be different. I’ve asked my husband, if he’s still puttering around, to tell them who I was. I want my love, compassion, creativity, and zest for life to be celebrated, rather than having a list of my choices read out flatly. I hope that when they fire up the furnace and my fleshly dwelling goes up in flames that I’ll have attained a sizzling essence that transcends the dust left over. I want to be well done.
Complete the experience. This song’s a party, as it should be. Listen to Moriah Peter’s Well Done.
Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram @pollyeloquent. 🙂