A game I like to play lately is called "And then we came to the end," which is just me running through various scenarios that could potentially occur around any given event, big or small (usually small) and winding up with excuses to be lazy. I stole the title from a book by Joshua Ferris, which I read X number of years ago and have since 100% forgotten about (sorry, Joshua Ferris), except for the title, which I still like. Thus my personal game has nothing to do with the book, which is both an important footnote and not, since as I mentioned the two are completely unrelated.
Anyway. An example of my game goes like this: I'll wake up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning looking like I just woke up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning (empirically not good) and have to decide whether or not to "do" something about that before I walk to Whole Foods. On one hand, it might be nice to address the situation, or at least find some unwrinkled clothes or wash my face, but on the other hand, all of those things take a lot of goddamn time and effort with little to no payoff, from what I can discern, and I'm going to sweat no matter what. So I always hear my mother in my head saying, "You could at least comb your hair," and then my brain, like a five-year-old, automatically says back, "Why?" What's the worst thing that could possibly happen if I don't? Maybe I'll go to the store and bump into somebody I work with, and they'll learn the enormous, long-hidden secret that sometimes I look terrible, but... so what? Will my day be ruined? Doubtful. Will their day be ruined? Even more doubtful. Will I get fired? No. Will I get arrested? No. Will I die? Will anybody else die? Will the world literally come to an end if I refuse to comb my hair before mixing with the masses in front of the freshly misted vegetable selection? NO!?? NOOOOOO.
And if I come to the very end of this "will the world come to an end?" scenario and the answer at every intersection is NOOOOOO, I'll pull on yesterday's sad, wrinkled clothes, and not bother with makeup, and I'll go buy yogurt and trail mix and prosciutto and olives, and I'll know I was right. I did what I needed to do and the world was just fine.
I'm not saying this is a game that will suit everybody, or every situation, or that I even have all the rules down yet (this is just a half-baked blog post, after all, not some academic whitepaper backed by rigorous study), but it can be applied to a lot of things. Like wearing a seatbelt when I get into a car (could I die if I don't? you bet!), or should I go to work this week (will I get fired if I don't? probably!), or will the world end if I don't vacuum or if eat a second piece of bread or care about different things than I used to, or change my mind about others...? (NOOOOO. No, it won't.) It's also a way for someone like me, a boring perfectionist, to relax the rules a little bit around some frankly trivial cosmetic or societal concerns, and find some perspective, and because life is exhausting and hard and when it comes to the truly, deeply unimportant stuff I need to learn how to give myself a fucking break.
p.s. I always do comb my hair, though. It's a real rat's nest up there in the morning.