OPINION

Why we feel the need to juggle tasks

ESCAPE: It's good to talk about an impending decision, but often we keep rehashing things to delay taking actual action.
ESCAPE: It's good to talk about an impending decision, but often we keep rehashing things to delay taking actual action.

A circus performer was pulled over for a random breath test, and the police officer noticed several machetes on the car's back seat.

"What are those for?" the officer asked suspiciously.

"I'm a juggler," the performer replied, "I use those in my act."

"Show me," the officer demanded.

The circus performer got out the machetes and started juggling them overhand, underhand and behind the back, amazing the police officer.

An elderly couple drove by and witnessed the spectacle.

The elderly wife shouted at her husband: "You've got to give up drinking, Harold! These police tests are getting too hard!"

A reader has asked me to expand on a column I wrote a couple of weeks ago about avoiding the temptation to try juggle all your tasks at once.

I've been musing on the irony of acting on this reader's request.

If I write another column, that would contradict my previous column which was about finishing each task so completely that you don't have to keep coming back to it.

However, as I like to keep both readers happy - hey, I read these columns too - let's throw the subject up in the air again, but looking at it from a different seat in the circus tent.

Ever noticed how it takes your washer 30 minutes to wash your clothes, it takes your dryer one hour to dry your clothes, and it takes you seven to 14 days to put your clothes away?

I think there are two more reasons we feel the need to juggle our tasks, and we don't muse on them enough.

Firstly, we intentionally throw into life's juggle too many discussions of our tasks.

Why? To avoid decisions and therefore, action. We can not only lie to others, we can also lie to ourselves.

To be fair, you need discussion at length before many a serious decision or project is started.

And often, the bigger the decision, the longer the discussion.

There comes a point where a subject has been discussed too much without any action. We keep discussing because, eventually, discussion is an escape from decision.

So long as we keep discussing a subject, we feel like we're doing something about it.

This is what politicians have done with the drought.

And after all their talk, what are the politicians offering most of our farmers? Loans, not grants, and with interest and paperwork that appears intentionally so convoluted that many a farmer has given up.

Secondly, we juggle because of the lack of stability we find living in 2019.

There was a time - not long ago - and for centuries in some cultures, where what you worked for was yours and no one could steal it from you legally. And so, people worked very hard.

Once you'd worked for your land, it was your land. Once you made your marriage vows, for better or worse, you were married until death do us part, so we were more careful about who we married. You could earn a job that came with tenure (from the Latin "to hold").

All these things gave stability of life and mind and, therefore, peace.

Today, people sort out their divorce while still paying off their mortgage. And who has job security anymore?

We live in a new age where prime ministers, presidents and even popes no longer have job security.

And just as a juggler never gets too attached to the things that he's holding - because a juggler knows he has to be able to quickly let go - so many of us don't have a great grip on the very things that make us who we are: our faith, marriage, job or even children, in some cases, in fear we may soon have to let go.

It's tragic but true. We all have a lot to juggle today, because things once true are now lies and need our constant attention. Even so, try finish one task at a time.

Twitter: @fatherbrendanelee