Longtime readers know that this year I’ve instituted what I call my “rituals.” Each day, I read a chapter in War and Peace (with the goal of getting through the 360-some chapters in a year). I write at least 100 words in my free writing file. And I do some strength training.
I have done this every day since January 1st, which was 215 days ago. I did do some push-ups yesterday. But I did not do the reading or writing.
I have spent quite a while today pondering why that was. There was no real time reason. I had time; it only takes a few minutes in any case. I was at my desk — fewer hours than on a “typical” Tuesday, but still there, with my copy of War and Peace next to me and my laptop available, and indeed, in use.
The honest truth is that I forgot. There was a brain blip of some sort, influenced by slight changes in schedule and work on other things. On weekdays, I often do my rituals in the morning as kids are getting ready for school or camp. But yesterday my husband left early for something, and I was driving a kid downtown. Our nanny gets to work at 8:00 a.m. I needed to finish getting ready, and we left at 8:20, but there was a lot of traffic and I didn’t get back to my desk until around 9:30. At that point, I decided to dive right into book writing, rather than doing my rituals. I think I figured I’d do them during a break. Then I got really into the writing, and kept at it without much of a break until I wound up with the baby for a while as other camp runs were happening. Those camp runs were delayed with other traffic, and I had to race out as soon as a kid got back to go to a planned afternoon adventure. This involved the Cousins Maine Lobster truck (see picture), which was parked at a nearby mall for the day, and then this indoor trampoline thing a handful of children had been begging to do.
This all took longer than expected (there was a wait for the trampoline) and we got home around 6:15 p.m. We ate dinner, there was a showdown over fruit eating, I put the baby to bed and then didn’t make it back into my home office until late. At that point I wasn’t even thinking about the rituals, because I have almost universally done them in the morning. I had more or less forgotten that I hadn’t done them.
Until this morning when I walked into my office, picked up War and Peace and said…wait. I didn’t read this yesterday! It’s somewhat amazing to me that I could do something for 215 days in a row and then forget, but there we go. At least it was easy enough to pick back up. I read two chapters and wrote two separate 100-word bits in the free writing file. We’ll see if I forget again before the end of the year!
13 thoughts on “Forgetting”
can you share how you write the free entry file? what’s the purpose of it? do you review it lateR?
@coco- honestly it’s just to build the habit of regular writing, even if I’m not publishing it. Almost everything I write has an immediate audience, and this writing file does not. I’m trying out ideas that might become a novel someday too. I’d like to write another novel but I don’t have a burning idea, and I know that spending time writing is one way to nudge the brain to come up with ideas!
I remembered Cousins Maine Lobster from Shark Tank. After reading your post (and seeing delicious roll), I thought I would find out if I could order online. Turns out there is a truck in Alabama! Looking forward to dinner tomorrow!
@Anne – woo hoo! I hope you love it. We gobble down the Maine Lobster Rolls (though my 11-year-old is partial to the Connecticut version…)
Maybe your brain was on “Eat the Frog” mode? After your podcast episode about doing the critical thing at the right time, it could be that you were zoned in on making progress on Tranquility by Tuesday when you had a nice time block. I loved the episode, “You will run out of steam” and I am using the wisdom shared as I plan my days. Once again very sound advice/ common sense but when phrased by Laura, I am motivated!
P.S. I totally love that you just doubled up today.
@Nicole – yep, we all run out of steam, and I have to keep reminding myself of that too. I’m actually writing that chapter next week, the “Batch the little things” one.
Yay! Proof that Laura is a human 🙂 And glad you are gaining steam on Tranquility by Tuesday. I knew before I read the end that you would double up the next day.
@Jammy- very, very human. Trust me! And this was an easy streak to double up on. Right now I’m in the midst of the battle of Borodino and the chapters are swift!
Laura, I love how well this illustrates your priorities of family and flexibility over perfect streaks (even if you weren’t conscious of that at the time)! Also admirable: getting right back on the horse again. That can be more difficult than maintaining a streak in the first place.
Thank you for sharing this. I break my streaks much easier than you. Though, sometimes I can have rather long streaks. I am impressed with how you stick to your streaks. It is nice to hear about someone else’s streaks.
I opened your email because I had read about a book by the same title as your email but with a subtitle. (I do not get all of your emails read.) It is entitled “Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering” by Scott A. Small. So even though your streak was broken there may be other benefits to you forgetting those two items.
Thank you for all of your emails. When I do get to them I really enjoy them.
Laura, what translation of War and Peace are you reading? I have wanted to read the book for a while and I think your approach to tackling it is very doable.
@Laura – it’s translated by Ann Dunnigan. The Signet Classic edition. So far seems pretty good!