Jon is a San Francisco columnist of some renown, and in the ancient past, (he is almost as old as I am), he wrote about those tasks you do that are necessary and important, in place of those tasks requiring immediate completion. i.e. you have company coming in two hours, and you decide that this is the perfect time to finally clean out the garage. Ever since that column, we have called such tasks "Jon Carroll Tasks", of which this post is one. I still have seven or eight hours till people arrive, so I am thinking about weed whipping the back slope, doing a blog post on my efforts to compare satellite phone rentals, catching up on the household budget ... more such tasks will come as I have less time remaining.
We have a couple of major trips coming up, first wrapping up the GR 653 into Puenta la Reina, and then after a few weeks of intermission, wrapping up the Pacific Crest Trail through the State of Washington into Canada. Both of these trips have a lot of little details that need attending. Soon after returning from the first trip, we need to be shipping off five or six resupply boxes for the second trip, so it would be a good idea to make sure that everything we need to ship will be on hand. Of course one of the major things is to be physically ready to do the trips. We know this. After about ten years of similar activities, we know the most important thing we have to do is get out the door at least five days a week and start walking, with a pack. The penalty for neglecting this is severe, and gets more so every year. So again, Jon Carroll is sabotaging us. We have to read the morning papers (we get two). California and the country are in crisis, oil is spilling, food is being taken from orphans, children are being denied health care. Surely one can't just walk literally away from that. By now the computer is up and beckoning. Well, email might be important, and certainly Facebook is. The paper said Facebook privacy was once more an issue, so paper in hand, to the computer to turn off the new gotcha options.
I got out the door a few times this week. Usually after twenty or thirty minutes the past is past and I'm just a living organism, moving, observing, smelling, sensing the immediate. Not the other day. "I don't want to do this" all the way down the steep hill, all the way along the path to the village, all the way back the path, all the way up the hill. What was all that about? I don't know. Maybe the weather. It's so nice being in the house when the rain is pouring down. Even after, when the sun comes, I remember that warm feeling of comfort in the house, and can't shake myself into the now. A few days later I drive to a trailhead where I start right out on a dirt path, no streets, no paving. The trail is a little wet, and more than a little slippery in spots. Everything smells a little wet, or at least, damp. I feel alive. When I cross a road to where a more remote section of trail joins two parks, there is a barrier. "Closed until made safe for public use".
I've walked that stretch maybe fifty times. Where could there be a problem? In years past landslides have happened, but nothing that was a safety hazard to people on foot. Maybe horses. My thought process - "If I go, what could happen? Not much - I'll just go to the problem area to take a photo, and turn around if it is not passable." "what if I meet a ranger, trail crew, etc? "I'll just say I'm an outdoor blogger, reporter really, and want to write about the problem - all true. They should buy that". "Wish I had a press card". Off I go. Short story - fine for adults, not for short people or horses. Met no one. Trail was a little more overgrown than usual, but the beaten path through the slide made it clear that I was not the first pioneer.
Oh yes, not a Jon Carroll, but a mandatory detour from normal tasks - got the Internet Security 2009 virus - took about 3 days to get rid of it, and still lingering problems. I have this feeling that if all the all the pc computer cycles were totaled by purpose, more than half would be virus checkers, their processes, and time spent removing viruses. Possible area for conspiracy theorists?
Ok, it's almost noon. Maybe time to start thinking about the real things to be done.