The Tyranny of the Urgent

I thought I must have invented the phrase “tyranny of the urgent”.   Google would beg to disagree, but it has all too often been my life’s course.  The day starts; I have so much to do.  When I was working full-time, I was busy responding to all the demands that came my way.  I couldn’t let a minute pass without reflexively checking my e-mail.  I had an “open door” policy and welcomed the frequent interruptions of co-workers.  Small wonder that, at the end of the day, I had accomplished little except figuratively dowse small fires with the contents of my coffee mug (good thing that  first morning cup of coffee grew nice and cold as the day wore on).  Even as I sought the quick adrenaline rush of response to the siren call of “do it now” , I knew I was neglecting what was really important.

I thought all that would change when I left the corporate world for a time.  My life would be filled with what was meaningful and fulfilling —  little did I realize that urgent gremlins lurk everywhere, masquerading as larger priorities, nor had I faced up to the fact that I had tooled myself to get a quick high on menial task completion. E-mail was replaced by laundry, bills, home maintenance, what have you.  Every once in a while I ran into a fragment of something I had started that threatened to be profound, but was abandoned, no doubt for the quick fix.  There was always something demanding my attention, attempting to lure my life vessel from the deep  to run aground in the shallow waters.

Today I took time to do something important.  I wrote my brother.  He lives in Hawaii and never really joined the modern era.  He loves letters, handwritten, embellished, and touched by human hands.  After the devastating earthquake in Japan, I called him to make sure he wasn’t staying near the beach as he usually does.  He was safe.  Before, I never seemed to find the time to write him, opting instead for the quick call.  Tonight, I penned him a long letter.  Tomorrow I’ll mail it.

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