One day I will be dead, and I find this a comfort. Part of that is the oft-told, off-color joke, “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” And part of that is a reminder: the Earth turned for a long long time before me and it will continue to turn a long long time after me. There are a handful of people who will mourn me, but the universe itself couldn’t possibly care less.
This is an important reminder when I get that buzzing feeling in my chest, when my to-do list makes a CVS receipt look as pithy as the paper slip in a fortune cookie. Whether or not I ever get around to refinishing our dining room table has no bearing whatsoever on the survival of our species. Or the survival of any individual member of our species, come to think of it.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I know this, and I’m pretty good at breaking down my life into one bite chunks. I know if I do overwhelming tasks fifteen minutes at a time, those fifteen minute periods add up and eventually over, say, a hundred days, I’ve gotten twenty-five hours’ worth of work done. If I only write 500 words a day, in a year I will have written 182,500 words, the basic equivalent of two 300 page novels.
But still, there are a lot of elephants standing in line to be eaten, and some elephants with amazing regenerative powers. Like laundry. By the time you’re done with the three loads that have accumulated, you’ve gotten bodily fluids and/or tomato sauce on at least another load and a half. And email. For every email I open, deal with, and either delete or file away, five have replaced it. Those buggers make bunnies look sterile.
That’s the thing, though. The pressure of the 14,713 emails in my inbox is something that I feel in my trapezius muscles and in the churning acid in my gut but is entirely self-created. If I were to drop dead after typing this sentence the twelve senders of those emails that are not spam will likely go on with their lives just fine without my response. Most people don’t respond to my emails either.
My mortality, then, instead of being something to fear should be a great relief. It should take the pressure off. I should be held accountable for the things I have promised to do. I should be a responsible, responsive member of society. That’s what makes the world a good place, when we all do our share. But if I do my best and I don’t cross it all off? The sun will still rise, the tides will ebb and flow and likely someone else will finish eating that elephant.
 With me, it’s most likely tomato sauce, something I manage to do even when I haven’t been anywhere near tomato sauce during the day.
 That number is current as of 5:32pm on December 23, 2023 and not likely current on 5:33pm.
 Also, that’s only one of my two main email addresses. I have one for writer-y stuff and one for lawyer-y stuff.
 Not something I’m planning on doing
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.