I used to love what I call diversionary explosions. You know what I mean. When someone else’s drama takes you away from your own to do list. Or, when you can avoid doing that which is imperative to your happiness, future, or promise to another because something “came up” that takes you away from doing what you really should do. Some call it procrastination, but the difference is you pretend there is a legitimate reason you haven’t gotten something done. It’s the perfect camouflage and therefore leaves you not feeling guilty.
Perhaps you need an example. You have a ton of deadline work to do, taxes to prepare, commitments to people, etc and a friend calls. They have a drama which is more than two degrees of separation from you. Instead of murmuring for a few minutes and then getting back to what you need to do, you take on their drama, drop everything, head over to support and enable, and the next thing you know that which you were supposed to do is not done and the obscure diversionary explosion has taken the anxiety that you didn’t do it away – for a little while. You didn’t procrastinate, you helped a friend.
I feel that we do this as a country more and more. Entire hours last night on the Letterman issue flash before me and I can’t help but think David doesn’t need me to be involved in his drama. He seems to be handling it well on his own. Letterman is an entertainer. If what he does in his private life between consenting adults doesn’t allow you to be entertained, than turn the dial. But do we really need legal analysis of his standing for hours last night keeping us from the dishes, time with the kids, or emailing me about how much you love my blog?
I know people who sat in front of the TV for three days following Ted Kennedy’s death. I assure you they had things they were supposed to do. But you can set that aside ‘when something happens that takes precedent.; “How often will his funeral be on TV?” “I want to honor him by watching.” Huh?
Tim Russert was another one. I was surprised by my tears when he died suddenly. I didn’t know I liked him that much. But three days watching his life and death before me? I had real things to do. But while I was watching the TV I didn’t feel anxious about not doing them. He was my diversionary explosion.
I was on a teleconference recently speaking with a hugely successful sales person who must multi-task in a way that could make her God’s right-hand man. I asked her how she does it. She said, “I always do what is in front of me right away.” I knew what she meant and have never done it. I open emails and don’t deal ‘until later’ which often never comes. I open mail and put it in a pile. I look at the to do list and instead of doing it one item after another, I skip around and do those that are easiest rather than those that need to be done.
I bet Obama does his to do list and doesn’t let diversionary explosions into his life. He wrote a book, ran for the Senate, patched up a marriage in trouble, voted no on the Iraq War (now there’s a diversionary explosion) – all in a few years. The man gets his to do list done. Diversionary explosion issues is not part of his personal sentence structure. That said, when Iran’s nuke antics pop up, that kind of diversionary explosion is not in the mix with the ones I’m talking about.
Think about Michael Jackson. I saw the people lined up for days trying to make his drama their own. I could see just by looking at them that they had other things they should have been doing for their own lives and had dropped those things – and the anxiety around them – and headed to be part of the celebration of this complicated, troubled soul. I saw a bunch of them interviewed and one person actually said she went into major debt to get there.
So, today my to do list is filled with things like pack for the movers coming tomorrow morning at 9:00 am (Yikes), get my car packed which is being picked up at 9:00 am on Monday and get myself packed up because I’m being picked up on Monday to go back to my new Obama Mini Me, diversionary explosion free, white food free, valet-filled life in LA. Let the games begin.