Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22157 – 727:
I really appreciate it when you comment. I read every one and I try to respond to each one. Sometimes the conversations get to be more interesting than the posts themselves. Sometimes that’s not hard. Last night I received another highly complimentary (in my opinion) thought. It’s nice to know that there are readers, fans if you will, who enjoy my writing and worry about me and tell me so. Not just my local friends and family and other people I know and have known through the years but also people I have never met in person and possibly may not ever meet as well. I cannot express (or, rather, I don’t know how to express, which boils down to the same thing, I suppose) how much it means.
So, here’s the deal about me. Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” A guy wrote a business book about stopping procrastinating with that quote as the title. It was called Eat That Frog. The whole premise is that if you do your hardest, worst, most undesirable task the very first thing in the day then the rest of the day will be easy. I guess that may be true, but I don’t know. Yes, I understand the principle and it makes sense but I think that live frog is probably an acquired taste. I know there are people in the South and elsewhere who eat frog legs and here in the West there is a delicacy called Rocky Mountain Oysters. I have never eaten either one. If I were at a place that served either and the price was right I think I probably would give them a try. Alligator or rattlesnake, too. We don’t get out much.
One of the biggest problems I have with this analogy is that, yes, I am sure that the quote is very true. I think one can intuit that by its very nature. The thing is, how do you go about it? Do you put barbecue sauce on it? Ketchup? Have any of you ever eaten a live frog? In the Seventies, there was a rumor that one of the hard rock bands would bite the head off some small animal or the other as part of their act but none of them were true except one, which was accidental. So how do you approach it? What do you do? Never mind. Don’t bother telling me. I really could not care less. If you are being deliberately obtuse about this, stop it! I don’t want to eat a frog. <-(period [full stop to certain of you], end of paragraph)
What I am getting at is that I think the analogy to tackling your hardest problem first thing is a bit silly. I am almost a professional procrastinator but I keep missing the deadline for the paperwork. There was some question about whether I would be allowed to participate in the Procrastination Pro-Am tournament but nobody ever got around to deciding it. Some problems take care of themselves. My position is that, if you don’t eat that frog right away, it might hop away of its own accord, maybe go on and eat some disease-carrying fly or mosquito that would have bitten me later on that day. I say, let the poor frog be and go inside and have a bowl of corn flakes.
Knowing myself and that I have this attitude and it’s exacerbated by a poor memory I have tried, with mixed success, to just jump up and do whatever it is that my wife is asking me to do right away. I also know that when it comes to writing, anything, really, I just need to sit down and do it. Writing for me is never a frog and certainly not a live one that I have to eat. Writing and especially blogging for all of you nice people is more like having a big bowl of Cocoa Pebbles or Pop-Tarts. Sometimes it’s like having three eggs over easy, four strips of bacon, some toast, a large glass of milk, and a steaming mug of coffee. Of course, there are many days when you get the microwavable breakfast sandwich and coffee to go. The point is, I like writing and I like writing for an audience, even though I sometimes feel a little intimidated by the level of intelligence of the members of my audience.
Some, perhaps many of you will remember a post I did about streaking (no, not the Seventies kind). It was about a commitment I made to myself at the time. Since that time I realized that I had made an important choice. I chose to make this a habit and it has become that. This is a confession of sorts, but I almost never made that promise and almost never wrote that post. One of the voices in my head said, “You’d better not make that statement. Eleven years is a long time (It’s down to ten, now) to keep doing a thing. You’ll never make it. You’ll cave.”
“Um, Herb,” I said to myself, “That’s not very encouraging.”
“It’s true and you know it. You can’t possibly keep a commitment like that.”
“Sure I could. If I really wanted to. I bet I could.”
“Oh, yeah? If you hit that ‘publish’ button and don’t keep it you’ll be exposed as the knave and charlatan you are.”
“Oh, yeah? Sez who?”
“Sez me. You can’t do it.”
“Go ahead. Push that button and see what happens to you. If you’re not too chicken. Go on. Push it. Press the ‘publish’ button and make a promise to all those nice people. Go on! I dare you! I double-dog dare you!”
Well, I couldn’t just leave it standing at that, and now here we are. Over a year later. Yes, I have missed a few days but I have made up for them with a couple to spare.
The thing is, if I break this habit now, I will likely never get it started again. I really, really, really do appreciate the concerns that some have expressed in the comments and in person, but, well, if someone double-dog dares you, you have to do it. You just have to. As Tell Sackett might say, “You’ve got it to do.”