Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On Toilet Paper and Time Management

I realized recently that whenever I use up a toilet paper roll I tend not to put the new one on the dispenser right away but to instead leave it on the floor next to the wall.  Whether or not I install the roll immediately correlates with how busy I am, and if I’m stressed or have a lot of things going on or am maybe just focused on a writing project the new roll can easily sit on the floor for several days.  I don’t forget about the roll, though, and whenever I’m in the bathroom I’ll see it and think about how I really should put it on the dispenser, but then I’ll move on to something more pressing instead.  The location of my toilet paper, then, indicates how much control I have over my affairs, since an ideal day would always find the toilet paper dispenser filled and ready to use.

A big part of me thinks this is idiotic.  It’s just toilet paper, and I really shouldn’t give two fucks where it goes as long as I have some to wipe my ass with.  I could save a lot of time by not reloading the dispenser at all, just as I could also save a lot of time by not folding my laundry or scrubbing the grease off my stove.  I still do these things, though, because I like having a clean stove and picking out my clothes from a bureau, but what if I could let go of such trivialities and let these chores slide?  If I did, I’d have more time to write and pursue interesting projects and meet people and seek out opportunitiesin short, I'd get more important things done.  The only trick would be to balance enough of the cleaning so I wouldn’t become the crazy old lady with the unopened mail and crusted lasagna pans overflowing on to the kitchen floor, and maybe we carry out our chores in part because we’re secretly afraid of letting things slide too far towards such a disaster—which reads like a stupid fear when you write it out like that.

Someone told me once that our brains naturally prioritize different problems in terms of their immediacy, giving preference to issues that affect our survival, well-being, and ability to reproduce, and if we don’t actively choose how to order our lives, our brains will by default shift into the food-water-shelter-sex gear.  I’m not sure that creating art has a place in that survival mode; it’s probably somewhere down the list between clipping your toenails and watching the sun rise.  It won’t have a place unless we give it one, which means that sometimes the toilet paper is just going to have to wait on the floor.