… a satisfying metaphor for the obsessive tasker.
Today I chucked 38 monkeys. One my one, I flung them off my back and onto the floor–monkey after monkey, thrown to its rightful demise. And all before 10pm.
The most satisfying was the gorilla of a lunch event I hosted–that 150 pounder had been clinging on for four and a half weeks. I am immensely pleased to be rid of him. That is not to ignore, however, the string of pygmy monkeys that was wedged right between my shoulder blades. One hour and forty-five minutes of responding to starred emails and those monkeys were toast. Hucked. Flung.
I’ll try to ignore the 17 additional monkeys that managed to scramble onto my back while I was distracted. They are howling now, but give me a few days to plan my execution strategy, and they’ll never know what hit them.
Sometimes I think, “But what’ll I do when I’ve chucked all the monkeys?” I am pretty well used to the constant creeching in my ears, and (dare I admit?), I have even grown fond of a few of them. My running monkey, for example, is annoying loud but a very faithful companion. Except sometimes I wish he were louder at 5:30am on cold mornings–or that he were quieter when I am trying to enjoy my chocolate panna cotta from WestBridge. My eat-out-weekly monkey has all but reached permanent status; he’s been perched near my left kidney for three years and never even been nudged. And the constant stream of pygmies sometimes afford a nice rhythm as the slam on the floor; besides, they give me something to do while I wait for the train.
But say, hypothecially, I chucked all of the monkeys. Say I chucked all of the emails, events, interviews, catch-up lunches, dirty bathrooms, start-up ventures, book clubs, text messages, must-read-articles, weekly memos, conferences, and yoga practices. Then what would I do? With no monkeys, what will I think about when I am walking home from campus? With no monkeys, what will I do on Tuesday at 4:50pm? With no monkeys, what will people know or say about me? With no monkeys, what in world will I do with my life?