Sunday, October 9, 2011

Those Who Finish, Those Who Don’t

I don’t know what the proportions are, but quite a lot of people start jobs but never really finish them. The worst of these are people who deliberately stop short because they can’t be bothered—and they don’t mind leaving their mess for others to handle. A classic cluster around here is formed by people who take their dogs on walks, carry plastic sacks, collect the poo, tie the sack at the top, and then just surreptitiously drop it near some bush along their path. Those who walk their dogs in the dark and don’t carry a sack at all—why they are beneath contempt. They belong to another category.

I feel for those who start things but don’t know they haven’t finished. One observes this sort of thing constantly in places of work. People write reports, but the damn thing’s incomplete. It misses the point of the assignment. You stare at pages and realize: you’ve just been handed a list. It lacks analysis, comes to no conclusion. People make sales calls but fail on the necessary follow-up. People make trips and fail to observe the very thing you sent them to observe.

A variant of this, at the higher levels, is excruciatingly hard analytical work—say in science—which is admirable in its own narrow field but obviously ignores the greater whole. Thus, lacking a feel for comprehensiveness, such people are blind to their own most glaring errors.

I go on walks and therefore daily see gardening projects abandoned half-way through, mowed lawns but unswept walks, abandoned tools that, sometimes, have begun to rust away.

Then there are those who finish things. This spring I passed a yard where an elderly gent had started to restore patches of bad grass in a strip next to a lovely line of flowers. The job looked hopeless to me, his method not very promising. We’re dog-sitting again, and taking Katie on her walk, I passed this place again. I only usually follow that path when I am with a dog. Big surprise. The unsightly patches of grass were, today, virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the lawn. I could still detect the areas, however, faintly: they were a deeper, richer green.

When I set out on that someday journey to discover the mythical bird, Simurgh, it is people like that old man I want to be in my company.

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