Any day I learn something is a day not totally wasted. Mostly I learn that I don't know as much as I think I do, but I'm convinced that's one of the basic aspects of education, and a part of it that a person (specifically, a person as dense as I) has to learn and relearn throughout his life. By next December, I'll forget what I learned yesterday about sweeping up pine needles off the carpet. It's not likely to come up before then.
It's the same principle, I think, that makes me bang up against deadlines before I get anything done. The urgency factor, that keeps the future dim and misty until I round that last bend. The short memory factor, too, that acts as an escape valve to keep me from being edgy all the time about what I haven't got around to doing yet. But in there somewhere is also the idea that if I keep getting away with it, time after time, there's no reason to change tactics.
After you stick your finger in a light socket, you don't do it again. That's a lesson you probably only have to learn once. I wouldn't know, never having done it. Some lessons must be part of a tribal consciousness, or maybe you just stay lucky until someone else sticks a finger in a light socket, and you learn vicariously. Luck has a lot to do with survival, I think, and the human species is likely better off for weeding out the sort who can't remember to unplug the toaster before sticking a fork down into it.
The instructive thing that happened today was that I had to slow down in traffic, to keep from inciting either myself or the other drivers to commit acts of involuntary mayhem. I thought I'd gotten over trying to win when there isn't even a race. I've taught myself to respect those who drive differently. Even this idiot, I tell myself, was once some mother's little baby. (Drooling, slobbering, spitting up all over himself.)
So when I find myself pounding the steering wheel and using uncharitable language, I feel abashed. Ashamed that I've regressed so. And immediately repentant. For the rest of the day, at least, I'm the soul of courtesy, backing off so resolutely that the cars behind are now tooting their horns at me. I don't know how long the lesson will stay with me this time, but I know I'll have to learn it again.
And now, I need to get back to work. Payroll tax deposits are due tomorrow. I've had all month to get them ready, but I was waiting for the right time. I think this is it.