Thursday, October 07, 2010

Help! I see UFOs everywhere

My life is a saga of UFOs. Not the kind that publicity-seeking folks claimed to see in the '70s. My UFOs are numerous Unfinished Objects that punctuate my life, waiting endlessly for me to fulfill the plan I once had for them.

There they lie. The 52,800-cross-stitches-strong piece of art that should have been framed and occupied pride of place on the wall of my living room, but is still at least 39,600 stitches away from the finish line, is an excellent example of this tendency to do tomorrow what should have been done yesterday.

Other UFOs are not even this lucky. Ask the six balls of white crochet yarn that appeal to me silently every time I look into the corner of the cupboard into which they have been consigned. They wait with the patience and serenity of a saint for me to decide just what I envision for them. My indecisiveness and, let me admit, my laziness and tendency to procrastinate conspire to exile them into the distant future where they remain stuck in limbo. Incapable, for no fault of theirs, of being able to fulfill the promises and expectations I had for them.

There are other UFOs in my life. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one of them. For some strange and inexplicable reason, I have never been able to read beyond page 9, even though I’ve attempted to often enough. Each time I start from the first page, determined that this time I will see this thing through to the end. But then comes that dreaded page 9 and something always threatens further reading. Another book, a film, domestic chores, too much office work, the need to spend quality time with my daughter.

Clearly well begun is not always half-done. The best of well begun intentions can remain frozen in the perfect beginning.

The coming of age novel that has given up on the hope of ever seeing the light of day simply because I can’t get a grip on how it will end; the 63-poem collection that I cannot submit for publication until I achieve the just-right (or so it seems to me) figure of 100; this blog and another one, Rheamyprincess, to mark the joy that my little darling has brought into my life — they are all projects that I once started with extreme excitement but which now languish for want of attention. They are all mute victims of this 'let unfinished things lie' syndrome.

I am reminded of Penelope from Greek mythology. This enterprising lady, queen of Ulysses, the king of Ithaca, had her marriage interrupted after a year of marriage by the Trojan War. During his absence, the beautiful Penelope was wooed by a number of suitors, all of whom sought to convince her that her husband would never return alive.

Unwilling to give up hope for her husband and unsure of how to get out of her predicament, Penelope busied herself in weaving a robe for the funeral canopy of Laertes, her father-in-law. She told the suitors that she would smile upon one of them once the robe was complete. Meanwhile, she worked diligently at weaving the robe during the day, and at un-weaving it during the night.

Her ruse has now become a popular expression for something which is always being done but never finished. The story of my life, although mine is not quite so Penelopian in its compulsions.


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