Wednesday 14 November 2018

Shane Watson: It’s time to embrace your inner quitter - there are some things that are perfectly fine not to finish

Bored game: There’s no point trying to finish Monopoly — it never ends
Bored game: There’s no point trying to finish Monopoly — it never ends
Shane Watson

Shane Watson

We've just learned, courtesy of The Reading Agency, that it is perfectly normal not to finish a book. If you're slogging on to the end simply to get to the end, you're proving nothing - and you might as well give up.

Well, what a blessed relief that is. It's like discovering that it's fine to sign up for 10 Pilates lessons and only turn up to two. No guilt necessary. And if not finishing books is now allowed, then there must be plenty of other activities that we can, on reflection, recategorise as 'Better Left Unfinished'. How about…

1. The really bad play

To be fair, leaving at the interval is a far bigger decision than abandoning, say, Fifty Shades Of Grey (the book that has the distinction of being top of the 'most frequently unfinished' chart). You must live with the knowledge that the cast will, at some point, look out and see your abandoned seats and in that moment realise they have failed in their job. Then again, half a play plus dinner is a night salvaged.

2. The last bottle of wine

... that you said you should not open. For pity's sake, leave it. What is €7.99 down the drain as compared with sleeping on the bottom stair and then, in the morning, driving over your handbag?

3. The declutter

It's a good idea to bin the seed catalogues from 2014 and the out-of-date star anise, and the Jo Malone boxes (what were you saving these for?). But you will need to stop well before the finish line. The truth is most of your possessions are on the clutter spectrum. Pretty much everything needs replacing or refreshing, and if you're not very careful you'll end up living in a room with nothing in it but a sofa, the TV, the Dyson and your new pasta tongs.

4. The game of Monopoly/ Trivial Pursuit

Any board game really, they never end. Also croquet.

5. The late night argument

Some arguments are worth finishing. Others pop up out of nowhere and, even in the thick of them, you can't quite recall what it is you care about so much. A good tip for spotting the Better Left Unfinished argument is if you find yourself shouting: "Listen! Whatever I said just before this is what I actually think."

6. Catching up on the last series

...of Line Of Duty (and all the other programmes you have recorded). Life is literally too short. And you need to hurry up and get on with six hours of Wild Wild Country.

7. The 'go on, someone's got to finish it' dish

They really don't. This is another myth from the time before fridges and cling film. You could easily put it in a bowl, cover it and then throw it out a week later. Far better call.

8. The disastrous haircut

Always better left unfinished, so it can just about be salvaged by the really expensive hairdresser the following day (albeit by giving you a Henry V bob because there's 'not much to work with').

9. The conversation that ends 'right, that's it'

... (with the one who's in the middle of the Leaving Cert, say). Much better to leave that unfinished. Otherwise you're into what exactly 'it' is and if 'it' has previously been hinted at, you may have to see 'it' through and, let's face it, you've got enough on your plate.

10. The slightly too long Pilates class

An hour is one thing, but an hour and a half? Come on. Best to adopt an 'I will just make it to my PowerPoint presentation' expression, and duck out early.

11. The tour of the historic site

You must finish some tours, but you know when you get the strong impression that the tour guide is the cousin of the one with the history of art degree, and you can't hear him anyway, and there are 60 of you trudging up the stairs of the tower, one at a time, in 30C temperatures… never finish those ones.

Irish Independent

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