Mind over Matter

I’ve lived long enough that you’d think the workings of my own mind wouldn’t be much of a mystery anymore, but still, it does surprise me at times how hard it is to overcome the it-doesn’t-matter mindset.

For example, a week ago I noticed that it’s been a little more than a year since I last changed the batteries on my smoke alarms. It took three or four days before I made the leap from thinking about the job to actually setting out my box of batteries. It took another day to remove the batteries I needed from the box. It took yet another day to buy extra batteries, even though I had enough for this particular job.

Admittedly, a few of those procrastinating days I’d overdone it with gardening work, and I didn’t think it would be smart to climb a ladder under those conditions. In fact, I even considering asking the contractor or one of his workers to change the batteries for me, or at least to stand by while I did it. I simply couldn’t get my mind in the right place to do the work.

When I finally settled into carrying out the task, it didn’t take long at all, but I can certainly understand why I stalled. The new smoke alarms have a little drawer you can pull out (rather than having to pull the whole unit off the ceiling), which is supposed to make it easy, but nothing is easy when you have to work with your hands over your head. And of course, the little drawer is only plastic, so even when it is difficult to pull out, you can’t really force it otherwise there would be the truly onerous task of replacing the whole unit. And once the drawer is open, the batteries won’t come out easily. Yikes.

But the job is now completer, the box of batteries put away, and the ladder is back in the garage. I’d feel silly about how much mental work it took before I could do the physical job except that . . . well, I simply didn’t want to do it. And truly, it didn’t matter, and it wouldn’t matter until the alarm started chirping and forced me to do what I should have already done. It’s that thought of pending doom that finally got me up on the ladder.

Now I can stop thinking about having to do that particular job and set my mind to working on other things that don’t matter, like solving puzzles. Or I could work on solving the more important puzzle of how to do the mystery at the museum event. Luckily, for that job, I have you (and thanks for all your help!) as well as a friend who is coming up with some great ideas. But still, how much do you want to bet that I will wait until the last minute because I can’t make the mind over doesn’t-matter leap?


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator