Monday, June 25, 2007

The Someday Syndrome

Three years ago when my daughters and I moved into this house I put a rack by the front door for their shoes. The rack didn't seem to have enough space so after a few months I added two wicker baskets -- one for shoes, one for dog paraphernalia. I never liked the look of the rack -- the front hallway opens into the living room and the rack is visible. It always looked cluttered and messy, the shoes a constant jumble. I also never liked the fact my daughters invariably missed the rack and the baskets. For some reason they seem to prefer leaving their shoes strewn across the floor...

The shoe mess has been a constant area of tension between us. I would ask them, politely, to please ensure their shoes made the shelves of the rack. The shoes would be in the baskets, including the dog one, and on the racks -- for a few days -- until like an elastic waistband expanding after a big dinner, the shoes inevitably slipped out onto the floor, blocking easy access to the door, littering the area and irritating my mind in their constant jumbled disarray.

Sometimes, I'd try more forceful language to impress upon my daughters the effects of their mis-behaviour. "If these shoes do not land on the shelves within 10 minutes they will be put in a black garbage back and stored in the basement."

Now, I must mention that when the girls were little we had one occasion where my black garbage bag threat materialized -- in a frenzy of anger, I swooped into their playroom, my high horse galloping, swept up their toys with the ease of a polo player striking his mallet at the ball and threw the toys into garbage bags. As I swooped, I swore, my daughters cried. "I've asked you a million times to clean up your toys. You knew I was going to do this. I've warned you, yada yada yada." At one point my eldest daughter, who would have been around 8 at the time, stood in front of me, hands on her hips, her cheeks wet with tears, her voice a shrill little quiver and said, "Mummy. Children learn by the example their parents set and right now you're not setting a very good example." I hate it when my children are more mature than me but her words barely dented my shield of righteous holy anger as I picked up one more teddy bear and threw it into the bag. "I know that. But right now, I don't care. This just feels good!"

Needless to say, my childish behaviour that day has stuck with them and me, though memory has helped us laugh at the Fiasco of the Black Garbage Bags. You see, to make matters worse, I had promised to return a bag of toys for every week they kept the room clean (not a hard task given there weren't a lot of toys left in the room). However, as I accidentally gave away two of the four bags to a goodwill society collecting for charity -- it proved to be impossible.

And thus was born the Someday Syndrome in my house.

Someday my daughters will put their shoes where they belong.

Someday I'll figure out what I'm doing and all my answers will appear.

Someday I'll undo what I've done and make amends.

Someday I'll forgive. Someday I'll apologize. Someday I'll say I'll get over it.

Someday my prince will come.

Well, I'm here to tell you, Someday never comes. It's as ethereal as a ghost. As impossible as corralling a cloud. Someday doesn't exist.

Right now, today. That's what we've got. Right now, in this moment, that's where I'm at.

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to IKEA and purchased a beautiful wooden shoe rack with a matching hat and coat (in our case scarf) rack. I put it together yesterday. Later on a friend came over for dinner and helped me hang the scarf rack.

Today, my front hallway is a riot of colour, design and neatness! The girls shoes are neatly stored in the cubbyholes, bright, multi-coloured scarves hang from the hooks and the one basket with the dog paraphernalia has only dog paraphernalia in it!

Will my daughters pick up their shoes and put them where they belong? I can only pray! And believe that with the orderliness and beauty of the front hall they will be inspired to support me in my efforts to keep our home a place of calmness and refuge. A place where beauty surrounds us in every corner and where peace of mind reigns.

Yesterday, I gave up on someday figuring out what to do about the front hall, and did it. My daughter and I spent a couple of hours wandering about one of our favourite stores, chatting about life, her career, her relationship with her father, our dreams. I came home and spent a joyful couple of hours putting the pieces together and can now sit back and enjoy the results.

Will they always put their shoes away? Don't know. But I do know that by getting rid of the unsightly shoe rack the sight of which constantly grated on my nerves, creating discord in my thinking every time I passed by, I have claimed my peace of mind. And, I also know that I will prefer putting any recalcitrant shoes that escape to the floor into the cubbyholes rather than throwing them onto the shelves of a rack that never looked good in the first place! I will enjoy knowing that regardless of what they are doing, I'm creating serenity in that corner of my world just by putting in place the tools I need to give me peace of mind.

Someday arrived yesterday. Today, someday does not exist. There's only right now. What are you doing with your time? Are you waiting on someday for order to arrive, or are you creating clarity out of the chaos, sorting through the flotsam of your life, rescuing the things you need on your journey, and leaving the rest to drift away on the waters flowing by?

Where's your mind? Trying to make sense of the past, or waiting for the future to bring you to your senses?

Stop. Look. Listen.

The moment is calling. Jettison someday and get into the act of being in the now where life is happening just for you.

And now, I must go create harmony around my desk. All those papers and files I've been promising myself I'll sort through... someday. Well, someday is now! Time to get busy cleaning up my act!

In peace and harmony,


P.S. -- I will be in Banff tonight giving a presentation. I won't have a chance to update my blog until tomorrow night.


Alex Fayle said...


Thanks for the great post! Someday is one of the worst words we use to delay so many things, but mainly to delay happiness (or as you call it: Joy).

I just discovered your blog today, but will continue to follow it regularly, in the same way that I follow the Happiness Project - do you know it?

Happy writing!

M.L. Gallagher said...

HI Alex, Thanks for stopping by! I don't know the Happiness Project -- and would love to hear more. Please feel free to leave a link here!


Louise G.