There’s an old play on words that goes like this:
“Wilt thou?” he asked, and she wilted.
Well, nobody’s asked me if I wilt, but I’m definitely wilting. Even the dog is wilting; she’s not nearly as keen on chasing the ball as she was when the weather was cooler. It’s hard to get the gumption up to do anything when your fingers stick to the keys and your choice is to wear clothes and be just a little hotter, or not wear clothes and have to peel yourself off the chair like a Band-Aid.
On the other side of the “wilt” pun, there’s some evidence that willpower, like a muscle, can be overused and get tired. The test used for it went thusly: four tests subjects listened to a particularly funny laugh track. Two were allowed to laugh if they wanted to, the other two were told they couldn’t even smile. They were successful, by the way, using various physical techniques (biting the insides of the lips) and mental ones (concentrating on the microphone wires, thinking only of that and trying not to listen) to keep from showing what they really felt.
Then all four did a game-like test of fairly simple tasks. The two who controlled their laughter took 30% longer to do the test than the two who were allowed to laugh.
Do these two “wilts” have anything to do with one another? Maybe, if only in my fevered little brain. I drive myself. My business-of-writing group colleagues told me today that I set myself very high standards, and then I’m angry at myself when I fail to meet them. Well, I was raised to do that, and a questionable relationship along the way reinforced it. I find it hard to do otherwise, which means that even trying not to drive myself takes a certain amount of willpower. Bit of a Catch-22, really.
But here I am, sweltering and trying to figure out which of many tasks I could do is worth the effort of doing them, and for which others I will suffer the guilt of failing to do them. I turned down a writing job today because the deadline was tight, and I mean corset-tight, not squeaky-tight, and I wasn’t perfectly familiar with the product. I did the right thing (everyone tells me) and yet there’s a part of me that isn’t convinced.
Of course, another saying is, “Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.”
Maybe I’ll just go sit by the koi pond with the last glass of white wine in the house.