I think I mentioned once before that I have three books sitting on my desk (within easy arm’s reach as I type this). They are pictured in the photo above: the sonnets of William Shakespeare, The Little Red Book of Running, and The Metamorphoses by Ovid. There they sit, staring at me, chiding me, intimidating me.
My intent was to read one item from each, each day. Or maybe read one item from one one day, then one item from the other the next day, then an item from the third the third day. A simple, thoroughly workable plan.
And for probably just about anyone other than me, it would work. But there the books sit, unread. I’ve poked at a few of the sonnets, and I’ve read a few snippets from the Red Book, but I only got about halfway through the introduction to the Ovid book, and I’ve stalled ever since.
All of this should be edifying, of course. The sonnets have already figured in my One-Match Fire stories, giving the title to “where late the sweet birds sang” and letting me make oblique references in several of the stories to “bare ruined choirs.” The running book (a gift from my wife), of course, should fill my non-running hours with uplift and motivation. And The Metamorphoses will inform my reading of Iris Murdoch novels, where characters sometimes make reference to this work or the myths that are related there. All lofty and worthwhile motivations. And there they sit. Sigh!
I recently passed the ten year mark with my current employer. (I know! I can’t believe it either!) I was given a catalog of gifts I could select from to commemorate my decade of selfless service (to big pharma, alas). There were the usual gifts like watches and jewelry and luggage and decorative glassware and all kinds of “things” that I already have too much of. Unique among them, though, was a weight machine. One you can sit within and do all kinds of resistance exercising with weights on pulleys. I’ve used one of these in the gym at work (a nice benefit, by the way), just as I used the fancy treadmills there before I got a ‘mill o’my own. So I thought that having my own weight machine in my cluttered basement (much smaller scale but probably perfectly suited for my humble needs) would be a good thing. And I think it is. The beast came to me unassembled. More than a month ago. The box weighed 300 pounds, and I’m sure it has more than 100 separate parts (not counting the screws and nuts and washers). I have been slowly assembling the beast since then. (It took me two days just to carry all of the pieces down to my basement.)
I keep telling myself that if I went down to the basement each night and did just one step in the 25-page assembly booklet, I would have it all together in no time, and then I could begin pushing iron and working on the upper body strength so desperately needed for hefting grandchildren. (You forget what that’s like after you stop hefting your own children. Trust me.) Whole weeks have gone by without me touching the beast. Still, I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the assembly. Unfortunately, I’m at the point where I must begin stringing the cables that are the pulley system betwixt the hand-held (or leg-held) parts and the weights themselves. This actually requires abstract thinking since the machine ain’t all together but I have to imagine/perceive/conceive/project how/where the cables will run, assembling and stringing them on faith since they’re not connected to anything much yet. My brain is fatigued. (I had a friend do some electrical work on my house recently, and he saw the weight machine in pieces in my basement when my wife took him down there to find the electrical breaker he needed to shut off, and he casually suggested that he assemble the weight machine as a surprise for me. I wish my wife had taken him up on that!)
So the weight machine approaches completion, just as the three books on my desk await reading.
I can’t be the only person in the world like this.