Sometimes I feel like there’s a cartoon giant standing above me, tall, big and ugly, his head bent down to within six inches of my ears. This giant has only one interest in life, to harass me with reminders about my chores. All day long, and sometimes all night (depending, I suppose, on whether he gets a nap), he shouts in my ears what I need to do.
My room slowly fills up with his speech bubbles, each of which starts with the words “you need.” “You need to call the dentist! You need to write a synopsis! You need to wash the dishes! You need to walk the dogs! You need to take out the trash! You need to teach the dogs to use the doggie door! You need to paint again! You need to work on your novel! You need to organize your desk! You need to listen to what I say!”
This giant is my monitor, keeping me not just honest but also stressed and overwhelmed. I try to shut him up by writing to-do lists. I try to silence him by calling the dentist. But he continually finds new things for me to need to do. No matter how fast or how hard I work, the giant keeps ahead of me by hundreds of items of to-do.
The giant monitor hardly ever demands that I do something fun. He will shout at me to floss, but never to take a bath. He will command me to get up, but never to take a nap. He won’t say, “you need to watch a movie.” Never! His words would be: “What the heck do you think you’re doing watching a movie? You need to wash the car!”
The giant is different from my inner perfectionist. He doesn’t care whether the job gets done well. In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care whether the job gets done at all. He blindly yells at me, coming up with more and more ideas all the time.
I wish I had his creativity. I wish I could harness his energy into my writing and have new words flowing onto the page with the speed at which his “you needs” fill up the space above my head. I wish that instead of getting buried under his demands I could float up above them to where the air is clear, the sun shines, and it’s freedom all around.
Perhaps I could remind the giant that sometimes it’s important to have fun, forget to pay a bill, or leave the dishes lying for the ants. I’m pretty sure I didn’t come into this world to chase a list of chores, though I suppose the to-do list must be attended to once in a while. So maybe if I changed perspective and considered the dentist and the dishes fun, the giant and his bubbles will fade away or pop to reveal the clear, blue sky of my uncluttered mind.