BECOMING BETTER

Jean Croker Petke


Too much of a good thing . . .

The courtship letter project, begun last January, is finished.

Last week I wrote about adding the final touches to the manuscript — the insertion of scanned images of my parents’ handwriting to fill partial blank pages. Once the printer confirmed the images could be printed in black and white, I forged ahead.

Problem #1: I thought I had a few blank spaces to fill — perhaps 20 or 30. Wrong. There must have been at least 100. The more I scanned the more images I wanted to insert. Even small empty spaces had to be filled. For days and nights, scanning, cropping, inserting, and saving was my life. I was relentless — like a dog after a bone.  Nothing deterred me from my self-appointed work.

Problem #2: My computer started misbehaving: saving slowly, declining format requests, refusing to move images as directed, deleting carefully placed page borders. Sometimes rebooting corrected the problem. Sometimes not. The thought of losing a year’s work created a certain terror. A young techie suggested, “Move the file and images to a CD and create a backup; that might help.” Upon rebooting and reloading the CD file I discovered that some — actually many — of my images were missing. The spaces were there, but no pictures.

I pondered. I thought. If I was ever going to be a drinking woman this was it.

I called my techie.

Conclusion: the file was too big.

Reality: I had gotten over-zealous, as I often do. What had begun as a good idea was  now dead in the water. My computer wouldn’t let me continue. To stop where I was would look like I quit without finishing — and I never do that.

Solution: “Just suck it up and do what you have to do,” I said to myself. “Stop whining.” No ugly words blistered the air. My path was clear: reset my vision and forge ahead with the same obsession I used for scanning. Days of work succumbed to my DELETE button. In between DELETE . . . DELETE . . . DELETE . . . a new plan seeped into my brain: a one page collage of their letters and envelopes would do the job; one page of images instead of 100 separate ones. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? Within a few hours, I made the corrections and delivered the file to the printer.

Moral of the story: Too much of a good thing is often too much.

Here’s how this scenario often plays out for me:

  • If 30 scans are good, why not fill every available space? I will scan more because I can.
  • In the clothing store, I find a shirt or pants I love. I buy it in three colors or five colors. It’s not about need. I buy because I can.
  • In my kitchen, I seldom bake one batch of cookies. I bake double or triple batches of several varieties, all in one afternoon. Because I can. Yes, it’s efficient but often not necessary.

Perhaps you do similar things.

We need to stop and say to ourselves, “Enough is enough.” And remind ourselves that more is not always better.

More is just exhausting.

Until next Tuesday . . .

 

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