Originally published at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Today I’m going to make a plan for the rest of my life, for the future. I’m going to lay out all of my goals, break down what I need to do to achieve those goals into individual steps, and I’m going to come up with a timetable, a reasonable expectation for when I should commit myself to realizing all of the smaller tasks that will eventually add up to those larger objectives.
And then tomorrow, I’m going to go to an office supplies store, I’m going to shop for a bunch of binders, color-coded plastic tabs, all sorts of organizational stuff that I’ll need to really put into focus everything that I should be working on. Highlighters, maybe some plastic sheets that can fit into the binder that have separate pockets for different index cards, I’m just thinking maybe I can write out individual reminders on each card, take them out as I need them, really just keep my priorities in check. Forty-seven bucks? Yeah, that’s a lot for office supplies, but it’s nothing compared to the price of my future. That price is priceless, definitely more than forty-seven dollars.
And then the week after that, my wife’s going to be like, “Rob, what’s the deal with this bag of office supplies?” and I’ll be like, “Honey, please don’t move those. I need them. I bought them so I can map out my future,” and she’ll be like, “OK, well, are you just going to leave it there on the floor? Can’t you put them away?” and I’ll get annoyed, I’ll say something like, “Listen, I’m going to use them, like very soon, so it doesn’t make any sense to put them away just yet. Just let me take care of it, OK?”
And then sometime later, like maybe a month or a month and a half after that, I’ll yell upstairs to my wife, she’ll be in the shower, I’ll be like, “Hey! Where’s my bag of office supplies?” and she’ll say, “What?” and I’ll repeat, “Office supplies. Where did you put that bag that I had, the one from the office supplies store?” and she’ll say something like, “I can’t hear you. I’m in the shower. Can you wait until I’m out of the shower?” So I’ll run upstairs and open the door, “The office supplies…” but the cold air is going rush into the bathroom and she’ll scream out, “What the hell, Rob? Close the door!” and I’ll say, “Come on, just tell me where you put my…” and she’ll scream louder, “Now!”
And then maybe like one or two years after that, I’ll be on the computer, surfing the Internet, not really understanding why my life is so aimless, the days blending into the nights, each month flying by seemingly faster than the last, and what do I have to show for it? Why can’t I figure out what I’m supposed to be doing? And I’ll think, it’s because I’m not organized enough, I just need to make a plan, I need to set some goals, and break those down into more manageable chunks. But just as I grab my keys to head out to the office supplies store, I’ll remember that I already did this, that I should have some supplies around here somewhere. My wife won’t be home, so I’ll send her a text, but by the time she replies, I’ll be watching TV or listening to a podcast.
I can’t see us staying at our current place for more than three or four more years, and so when we finally decide to move on, we’ll be packing all of our stuff into boxes, I’ll come across that bag of click pens, not the cheap kind, but the ones that come two for seven-fifty, the label maker, all of those plastic separators that go in that binder. I’ll think, this is perfect, I know exactly where I’m going to put this stuff in our new apartment. Once we’re settled in, I’m going to get to work, I’ve still got a whole lifetime ahead to make something of myself.
And then maybe forty or fifty years from now, my kids and my grandkids will be hauling all of my old stuff into a dumpster right after I’ve died. The younger kids will be searching through all of the years of accumulated trash, looking for some sort of hidden treasure, and one of them will come across this bag, they’ll say, “Look mom, a whole bag full of multi-colored post-its, a faux-leather bound document folder, and something called White-Out tape. Can I keep it?” But she’ll say, “No, come on, it’s just going to sit there and take up space, go ahead, toss it into the dumpster, they’re going to haul it away in an hour and we’ve got piles and piles of junk to dig through.” And the kid’s going to go, “Why did Grandpa have a whole bag of old office supplies?” To which she’ll reply, “I have no idea. He worked in a restaurant, and the Internet was around by then, so I couldn’t tell you what he needed any of that stuff for.”