Shit Really Does Happen: Lessons in Dynamic Prioritization

November 25, 2007

This Thanksgiving Break didn’t go at all like I thought it would. Well, the intrapersonal aspect didn’t. The interpersonal went off without a hitch: I had the most fun I’ve had with Chi friends in quite a long time. In 3 months, in fact. And I’ve majorly wet my chops for 3 weeks when Winter Break begins. That’s 3X as much time for fun!

But back to the intrapersonal: I had the intention of reading through a bunch of books, and writing and drawing a great deal. Most of that didn’t come to fruition for one big reason: my computer.

The hard drive in my Mac died over the break, on Thanksgiving, to be more precise. I tried to update the OS, and in the process apparently taxed the hard drive to the point of death  [sounds fishy to me, but at the same time reasonable enough that it might be true]. Luckily, and very thankfully, I got all my data off the computer before the hard drive went to storage heaven. I really had a reason to count my blessings with that one!

So besides putting me in a sour mood for a good deal of the next day [something that, unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of managing], I also found my priorities quickly reordered to solving the computer issue. That meant that everything else, all the ‘very important’ things I wanted to get done [like write, read, and draw], got quickly placed on the backburner. And now, only a few hours away from returning to college, I have the computer issue solved, but nothing much else to show for an internal journey.

But sometimes the journey is the path. And the obstacles along the path are the teachers. I think I could learn a lot from this little episode, if I just took the time to. Which is what I’m doing here. This fiasco demonstrates a life principle in about as simple terms as it may be presented: we focus on the loud and close, often to the exclusion of the distant and important. My computer broke. I couldn’t really imagine living without my computer [it really has become a sort of extension of me, something that I’ve completely modded to match my every whim and need]. So I spent the great majority of my me-time during break trying to fix it. All the while complaining to myself about how much of the time I was wasting that I should be spending on more important pursuits.

Maybe I could have shortcircuited the whining altogether by just going to the important things instead. None of them really involved the computer. I can read, write, and draw quite easily without my Mac. I can even easily access the internet with this PC [what a though life I lead…]. I could have completely salvaged this break from Thursday evening on, had I just taken a step back and put my priorities in order.

So priorities are dynamic. Yes, at the start of this break, I had something in mind. Then something else came up that required my attention, intention, and money. I could have just given it it’s due, bought a new hard drive, and then gone about my day. Instead, I shifted, automatically, all my priorities to the new and loud problem.

Life lesson learned. Be dynamic, not static. And pay attention to what’s important, not just what’s loud/close.

Secondary life lesson reviewed. Yeah, it’s unfair. And break would have been better had the hard drive not died in the first place. But it all could have turned out far worse. And with what did happen, you only lost a day or two to aggravation. Anything else you lose is your own fault.

I hope everyone had a great break! Enjoy the rest of your semester / non-Holiday season!

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One Response to “Shit Really Does Happen: Lessons in Dynamic Prioritization”

  1. dave in the back said

    lol, Dave. Is this entry really about how you wanted to spend time with yourself rather than fixing your computer?

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