My girls love stories at bedtime, so this week, I borrowed a digital collection of Frog and Toad stories from the library to read to them. One of these stories in particular felt personally applicable. I felt seen, as they say.
In a story called “Tomorrow,” Toad (shown in pajamas) has decided that today is going to be for Taking Life Easy, and all of his necessary tasks will be done Tomorrow. When his friend Frog asks about the dirty dishes, clothes on the floor, and general disarray of his house, Toad insists that it will all be done Tomorrow.
Suddenly, Toad is distressed (as pictured). Why? Because he’s worried, thinking about all his many tasks that await tomorrow. Frog replies that, yes, “tomorrow will be a very hard day for you.”
What if, Toad asks, I go ahead and wash my dishes now? And perhaps pick up my clothes? And so on, and so on, until all the tasks are done. Finally, he collapses back into bed, weary but now unworried, and decides that Tomorrow he will take life easy.
For the record: I’m writing this post from a very messy home office, on the last day of a week of vacation spent at home doing many, MANY projects, with many still yet undone. But I do so while still at ease.
I have too often been Toad, wanting to take life easy, postponing necessary tasks to Tomorrow. My never-ending work queue or home project list has stood stacked against me for weeks on end, things being added as quickly as things are taken off, so that any break of longer than a day or two is tinged with low-grade worry about what is yet undone. This all rings very true. That picture of Toad above? That has too often been me (except I don’t have such snazzy jammies).
What’s important to realize is that during the course of this story, nothing materially changes. Whether it’s today or tomorrow, Toad completes his necessary tasks and he still gets time to rest. But there is one change that makes all the difference; leave it to a simple children’s story to hit you with such an obvious truth! The difference Toad experiences between the moment pictured above and the end of the story is now that his tasks are completed, his rest is untroubled by the worry of what’s undone.
Before taking this past week off of work, I spent a week or so working extra hours at night and on the weekends with one clear goal: empty the inboxes. If I could log off at the end of it all with all emails responded and all tasks moved out of my hands, I could shut down my computer and enjoy a week of not just no work, but no worry.
I gotta tell you, friends: it was worth it. No matter how many dozens of emails and tasks are waiting for me when I log on in about 17 hours, at this moment, I’m not anxious. I have barely thought about my emails for days. Feels good, bro.
Hopefully this feeling persists for the rest of the day. And hopefully, as I jump back onto the task-list treadmill in the morning, I will work harder and smarter to stay on top of things, so that my tomorrow’s don’t worry me quite as much.