When I open the Cheez-it box in the pantry, I’ll find only two sorry crackers lingering at the bottom.
Theoretically, when I spy the box on the shelf, it exists in multiple states of fullness, like Schrödinger’s cat. I’m buoyed by the thought of a snack, though I should know better. I know for a fact, there are two Cheez-its in the box, four Oreo cookies with the cream removed left in the package and absolutely no marshmallows left in the Lucky Charms. I also know these items will stay this way forever until I deal with them myself.
The corollary? That second box of Cheez-its? The one right behind the almost empty one? That one is almost empty too. Perhaps not as empty as the first, but it’s open and partially consumed. And when I ask if I need to get anything at the grocery store, my husband and son will say “nothing.” Actually, my son will say “nothing” and my husband will say “tea,” because he always says tea despite the fact that he has a three-month supply in the closet because I take him at his word far too often.
My son and husband aren’t trying to hide anything. I don’t care if the pantry items are gone–in fact, they get far more grief from me about the empty box still being there. They don’t like to finish things.
I don’t like leaving things half completed. I’m pretty compulsive about it. It’s like the clean plate club extended beyond the dinner table. There is no halfway for me. I will drive everything through to its natural conclusion, even when reason would suggest I shouldn’t. I can’t abandon a book midway, even if it’s awful. I like to watch the credits, even if I know there will be no Ferris Bueller type payoff at the end. I like closure. Put it in a box, tape it shut, tie it with a bow closure.
My husband and son have the traipsing syndrome. They start things, get distracted, and then abandon them, leaving a trail of papers, tools, books and clothes in their wake. Their favorite drop-off points are places I’m most likely to find inconvenient, like the kitchen counter. Needing space to work, I’ll cart the tools down to the workshop and put the papers on the desk and the hoodie in the closet. And two months later my husband will ask if I’ve seen his needle nose pliers. I tell him to look in the Cheez-it box.
The compulsion to finish doesn’t always serve me well. I will pursue an argument beyond its productive life, I can be terrible nag (because I’m not satisfied just to have my own projects complete–everyone else’s must be as well) and I’m dogged by the feeling that there’s something I should be doing. A friend of mine has a Zen saying–the laundry is never done. It’s true. Making peace with life’s unfinished business is something I need to work on. At a minimum, I need to apply my efforts to my own universe and leave the rest of the world alone.
Which is why I keep an extra Cheez-it box hidden in the back of the pantry, just for me. It’s easier to overlook the detritus of traipsing syndrome on a full stomach. So I’ll go through my post-weekend ritual of gathering orphaned items and putting them back in place, put Cheez-its on the grocery list and be glad I have these two awesome people in my life.
Until I go to the bathroom and realize the toilet paper roll is empty. I knew there was something I should have done.
Words by J. B. Everett