Veronique Darwin

Unsure How Much to Shovel

In Inspiration, Thoughts on Writing on December 12, 2015 at 6:40 pm

I found myself today

a) shovelling

b) unsure how much exactly to shovel

Do you want to shovel just to get a packed surface so your boots aren’t sinking into deep snow? Or are you supposed to shovel down to the soil, the stair, the icy road? Then you get that brown mixing in with the snow and it doesn’t look so nice. Also, it involves a certain thoroughness I don’t want to do.

I’m afraid someone might come and see the outcome of my shovelling, I guess is what it comes down to. And I’m concerned that I might have misinterpreted what the point of shovelling is and be embarrassed by their reaction. So I just wanted to check.

Do we shovel to make things as they were, or do we shovel to make things a little bit better? Should I really try that hard when I’m shovelling, or should I satisfy myself with the fact that I shovelled at all?

cartoon-penguin-shoveling-snow1

(photo from crossfitnickelcity.com) 

Of course, as we know from Sex and the City, this is about more than shovelling. When I read a book, should I read it to the end? When I watch TV, should I put down the other thing I’m doing? When I heat up last night’s dinner, do I really need to wait until all of it is completely hot? Life is a spectrum, and I would like it sometimes if someone told me where I am supposed be on it.

I know someone who cries multiple times in conversations, because of passion. Am I supposed to be there? Am I supposed to know everything about a thing I am teaching before I start teaching it? What about writing, how deep to go with each line, how far to take a story before letting it go? I think we all want to be good at shovelling, but I don’t know whose standards it is that we are supposed it to meet.

I went inside halfway through shovelling the path to the back lane because I realized I’m not actually going to use that path today. I just dropped the shovel and turned around and went inside. I figure it isn’t what I would like from a mortgage broker, or a surgeon, but it’s an okay thing to set idiosyncratic standards as a writer, as a teacher. Because a lot of the time it’s me making up where the ground is, the icy street or the stairs, and I have to decide if I’m willing to get there or not, or if for today, and maybe forever, we don’t need to even make that path to the back lane! Let’s just not walk there!

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