all you can do


Years ago, when I worked for Barnes and Noble, I remember a title in the Business section. It was called, All You Can Do Is All You Can Do (And All You Can Do Is Enough). I never read it. Business self-help books give me the cold shivers. But the sentiment expressed in the title is something I can get behind. We have these voices in our head, telling us what we think we should do. How do we balance our obligations to others with our obligations to ourselves? Athletes talk about letting the game come to them, rather than forcing shots. Today, for example. I have the day off from work, in the middle of the week. For a middle-aged married guy, this is like an all-expenses-paid trip to the Turks and Caicos. Once the kids are off to school, the day is mine. Or at least the next six hours. What to do?

Should I do what the voice in my head is telling me I ought to do, or should I do what I want to do, which is watch Ghost World again, listen to music, and maybe go for a walk in the rain? Because I should go to the grocery store and buy food so my kids will have dinner tonight. I should go to the hardware store and buy some spackle and paint to patch over the leak in my living-room ceiling from when the toilet overflowed a few months ago. I should fold this never-ending laundry because my bedroom looks like a scene from Hoarders.  I should work on my 3,000-word essay on male nudity for The Rumpus. I should get my hair cut. I should shave, even though my wife gave me permission to grow a beard but I have a “professional” job and my “beard,” such as it is, is in what can only be described as the “ugly phase” and if I go into work tomorrow looking like this my boss will think I’m sleeping under a bridge.

See, those voices again. At least I already cut the grass.

Maybe I’ll do some of these things. Maybe all. Maybe none. Maybe I’ll just sit here for a few minutes more, drinking my coffee and writing, looking out the window at the rain and trying not to be tempted to turn on the heat even though I’m freezing but it’s almost June and that would just be bullshit. I think I’ll just sit here at the dining room table and breathe and drink coffee and write and think about the smoothie I’m going to make in a few minutes and let the game come to me.


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