10 June 2020

Disciplined, Determined, or Just Plain Nuts?

Editor's note: I have noticed for some time now and in various blogs the custom of referring to one's significant other by a pseudonym, "Someone" being rather popular.  I've also seen DW = Dear/Darling Wife and such baroque fancies as San Geraldo.  I'm pondering such a usage for my beloved hubby David, to wit AH = Adoring/Adorable Husband.  The only drawback I see is that once WickedHamster attains global popularity, novice readers might not understand who AH is.  I will ponder further...

David (aka TravelPenguin, aka AH) posted a comment on my sweat post, to wit: "Yet, once you start working, you won't stop even if you are visibly uncomfortable. Go on, tell us more."  I take that as a challenge.  What AH refers to is the habit I inherited from both parents of finishing any task, once it is undertaken, no matter if it goes into the wee hours of the morning, induces heat stroke or other physical collapse, or generates an uncontrollable twitching of the extremities.  We are folk who don't give up.  The undertaking of weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, dusting the house, polishing the floor, cleaning the attic, etc., etc. invokes a solemn, well-neigh religious commitment.  To stop before the work is done results in personal disgrace and self-loathing.  (For you ethnopsychologists in the audience, yes, being pure-bred Slovak does have something to do with this.)

What we have here is a paradox (that is something that also goes with the Slovak heritage).  I hate sweating, but will work out in the yard in the hot sun for like 8 hours in order to get the tasks I assigned myself completed.  What's worse is that I didn't start out that way.

In my younger years, I loathed working out in the yard/garden, which is something I was compelled to do on weekends and during the summer.  I was one of very few children of my age that actually dreaded the coming of Saturday.  I would timidly suggest upon occasion that a given task could be completed perhaps tomorrow, only to be told--in a manner and tone that evoked divine revelation and unalterable cosmic law--that "it had to be done."  Alas, no one bothered to tell me that there was a genetic time-bomb in me just waiting to go off.

Ah!  I remember it well.  It was sometime in the early '90s; I was soon to turn 40.  I developed a sudden need to tidy up the yard of the house David and I were living in in Florida (a place not known for it's cool, refreshing breezes).  So I started.  Over a period of time, weeds were uprooted, soil emended and fertilized, borders made crisp, and I got the azaleas to bloom heartily for the first time in years.  What had come over me?

Now, having cut a colorful path through grad school clear up to the PhD, I was indeed proficient at steady, concentrated effort, just not out-of-doors and especially not involving touching dirt.  (I was an inveterate hand-washer long before the plague made it fashionable; I still can't stand dirt, stickiness, or odors on my hands--I even have to wash my hands after eating chocolate or ice-cream).  Nor did it stop there.  In Kentucky, AH often had to rescue me on a given weekend, dragging me in before I'd finished (the disgrace!) as a wet, convulsing mess.  These are the occasions he refers to.  And it doesn't even have to involve being outside.  The same physical effects could be produced by giving the place a good dusting, deciding to shampoo all the carpeting on the first floor, and making various household "improvements"--a word that strikes fear and terror into AH's heart to the very day.  If it's worth doing, then it's worth doing to the point of insanity.

Happily, we now live in a much smaller place with no yard.  I still go into my "on a mission" mode from time to time, but that only only involves household projects in a place that is small enough so that I don't do damage to myself.

So the revelations of yesterday's post and today's are indeed contradictory.  I have never endeavored to reconcile them, and simply attribute this to natural human perversity.  I am also retired now, and that has apparently served to automatically whittle my ambitions down to reasonable size.  Or maybe it's the wisdom of age?  I doubt it.


  1. All good things in moderation, there is a value to embrace.

  2. do you ever sit on your arse and just do nothing for one single day?

    1. Rarely, but I'm getting better at it. David is helpful and encouraging in this regard.

  3. The task of sitting and doing nothing is most difficult. I read a book on it once, but have never been very successful with it.