Monday, November 1, 2010

Writing vs the “to-do” List.

I love "to-do" lists.  I hope at the end of my life, my family finds a very long "to-do" list on my desk.  Imagine how terrible life would be if you had nothing left to achieve.  It’s a blessing to look forward to new adventures and obstacles in life.

Here are notes from the top of today’s “to-do” list:

1. Change dressing on my surgical incision.  (Had surgery this week...fortunately, benign.)  DONE
2. Download and print proof-of-insurance document for a Suburban I just bought.  DONE
3. Mow lawn. Oh good, it’s raining! I have a legitimate excuse to procrastinate.   POSTPONED
4. Review chapter I wrote last night.  DONE (Not goes to the top of the next list.)
5. Get caught up on blog.  (IN PROCESS)
6. Inspect new travel trailer I bought along with the Suburban.
7. Call mom.  See if she still remembers who I am...LOL.
8. Write another chapter in the sequel to The Last Human War.

My list would have been shorter if I wasn’t such a sucker.  One of my neighbors died recently...nice old guy.  His daughter is trying to liquidate his estate, but the poor lady is also trying to take care of her husband who had a major stroke last month.  She tells me they didn’t have insurance, so they are faced with a $260,000 hospital bill.  (Life lesson reminder:  there's always someone who has worse problems than me.)

The old man owned a 1989 Chevy Suburban and a 28-foot travel trailer...they were his pride and joy. His eyesight failed about a year ago so the SUV and trailer sat dormant for quite a while.  The truck wouldn’t even run.  His daughter needs to get these vehicles off the property so she can sell the house and I offered to help her sell the truck-trailer combo.  When I asked how much she wanted, she said $1,000.  I’m a decent shade-tree mechanic and I could afford to take a risk, so I bought them.

That was last weekend. This week, the truck’s running...$700 for new fuel pump, smog certificate and a couple other “fix-its”.  The trailer is next. I figure it will cost less than $1000 to get it operational and then I can sell both vehicles and, hopefully, recover my total cost of $2700.  I didn’t mind spending a few bucks to help someone in a bad situation, but I’ll admit frustration with the time demands this act is costing me.  I keep thinking I could have written another chapter with the time I invested in this misadventure...which brings me back to the “to-do” list.

As I worked through my list this morning, it occurred to me that all the demands associated with the Suburban and travel trailer have been fun...yes, time demanding...but fun, too.   Seeing this old, dead Suburban come back to life gave me a little twinkle of past glories in hotrodding.  It runs great now and I’m certain it will make someone happy...probably some fisherman or outdoors enthusiast who needs a strong tow vehicle at a low price.  But, when I talked with my wife about the travel trailer, she shocked me.  I expected a shrill “What the hell were you thinking?”  Instead, she said it might be fun to keep the trailer and take a few trips in it.  Wow!  I really didn’t expect that.  I suddenly have a bit more grist for my life experience mill that also feeds my writing.  A simple act of compassion turned into another chapter in my “to-do” list.

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