Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do Look Back

I'm still proceeding on the gargantuan project of cleaning out this house for sale. This is the project I was working on last month with my team of crackerjack graduate students. With their help, I got the house to the point where it could be shown to a realtor, and then shown to potential buyers, and now I'm thrilled to report that it is under contract for a mid-August closing. But now I have to finish cleaning out the rest of it.

Some furniture will be sold, some given to Gregory to set up his first-ever apartment, some moved into storage. I think the house had five couches, six desks, four dining room tables, and more coffee tables and end tables and interesting little curio cases than you could shake a stick at. I've done so much. Oh, but so much remains.

This is where the advice "Don't look back" needs to be turned on its head. In a job like this it's crucially important to focus on how far one has already come, rather than on the hurdles that lie ahead. So in bed at night before I fall asleep, I itemize in my head the progress just from last week: 1) secured the storage facility; 2) hired the packers and movers and reserved the packing and moving dates; 3) took an entire huge truckload of furniture to a local consignment store; 4) took one truckload and four stationwagon loads of stuff to Goodwill; 5) arranged for the piano tuner before the piano goes into storage; 6) took all the "hazardous materials" (cans of paint, thinner, weed spray) to the special hazardous materials recycling center.

More remains, yes, and I have my little list, believe you me. But before I go to sleep at night, it's better to look back at accomplishments with calm satisfaction than dwell on tasks still undone. Take one step, then another, first one foot, then the other - and occasionally glance back over your shoulder at all the stunning progress made.

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