When I was clearing off my father’s desk after his death this summer, I found a round cardboard disk with the words “to it” printed on it. I recognized immediately this gift from his second wife some 30 years ago, a joke gift. At his puzzled look on opening it, she said, “Now you’ve got a round to it, you can do all those things you’ve been putting off.” She was playing with his usual reply of “I’ll get around to it.” He was not amused. They divorced about five years later.
I didn’t take the disk away with me, but I feel I’ve inherited my father’s tendency to procrastinate. Since his death in June and since our move to Jerusalem in August, I have neglected family, friends, my work, social media, and Canadian Writers Abroad.
Procrastination is easy when you move to a new country. Unless you are efficient and organized, which I was not this time, no one knows your telephone number, and anyhow who can figure out how to retrieve messages, and sometimes the internet doesn’t work, and who can be bothered? And when you walk out your door, no one knows you. No one is going to ask how your work is going. By December I knew I’d let things slide long enough and resolved to do better in the new year.
Around Christmas, I got red eyes. The pain in one eye was so intense that it felt like a biblical punishment. I couldn’t read and I couldn’t look at a computer screen. At St John’s Eye Hospital, a mere block away, they told me I had a virus. That I would be better soon. But I didn’t get better, I got worse.
Moving abroad and setting up house in a new country isn’t always easy. But you get on with things, do what you have to do, and when you stumble, you say to yourself that things will get better. Sometimes, though, they get worse. The new year came and went and I couldn’t read. Everything was blurry. I recoiled from sunlight like a vampire.
And then — bless “and then,” the redeeming turn of the story. I went to another eye doctor, who found the hard seedy source of the problem stuck to my eyelid, which in turn caused an abrasion that delayed victory over the virus. I still can’t read, and am touch-typing this while squinting. But now I am assured that my eye will recover, and this makes everything bearable. Even the necessity of apologizing for my months of procrastination is bearable. I am looking forward.
My question to you is: if you couldn’t read for a few weeks, what book would you select for your first read of 2017?