We’ve spent the pandemic purging our homes of the detritus of our lives, learning how to work with yeast, amassing a wardrobe of masks and figuring out the limitations of technology.
And now that we’ve mastered all of those skills, we’re bored with all that stuff, right? After all, how much tidier can our drawers get?
So now it’s time to move into the next phase of being stuck at home, the phase that people stuck on a desert island — with no drawers to tidy — probably get to long before this: Debating philosophical questions of great import. The beauty of this activity is that it takes a lot longer than becoming a sourdough expert.
Thus, we’ll always have something to do no matter how many years we’re advised to stay home. The only real problem with this activity is determining which philosophical questions count as having great import. But the beauty of being the one writing the column is that I get to decide — and my decision is this: Today’s question of great import is whether it is better to quickly rip off an adhesive bandage or pull it off slowly, bit by bit.
Naturally, I’m talking in metaphorical terms. In other words, in all things life-related, is it best to just dive in and “git ’er done,” as Larry the Cable Guy would say, or is it better to work through it slowly, taking care of whatever “it” is in a gradual way?
Conventional wisdom says that the quick rip, albeit painful, is the best solution to most things. However, I have come to the conclusion after years of the quick-rip approach that the bit-by-bit method, although not entirely without discomfort, is far less miserable.
Let’s start with taxes as a case study. For years, I would let the paperwork accumulate and wait until December to organize it, record it in my accounting book and add up income and expenditures figures for our tax preparer. Let’s just say that December was a grueling month.
As time went on, I decided that I had to save myself (and save others from being around me and my mood when I was doing bookwork). Years ago, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to do my tax bookwork month by month as a person probably should. At first, I would do January … and then have 11 months of catch-up work in December.
Over time, I have had fewer and fewer months to catch up on in December. The perfect spot? I still haven’t gotten there — and it’s taken me 30-some years to get to “not quite there.”
If you want to claim that taxes are an anomaly for purposes of this discussion, I’m going to have to steer you to the sink, where the dirty dishes pile up. The only thing less awful than doing dishes over a period of hours as you cook is facing an entire, overflowing sink full of dishes to deal with all at once.
Windows are another great example. How many times have you put off doing the windows because there are just so many of them to do at one time?
So, metaphorically, the slow, step-by-step method is clearly best — even if I know this only because I haven’t always ascribed to it.
Now, in literal terms — well, that’s an entirely different question. So, is it better to rip off an actual adhesive bandage or pull it off slowly, bit by bit? Another few months on our desert island, and we’ll probably be able to answer this one, too.
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