Mar. 18—Dinner was on the cusp of a catastrophic breakdown when my 6-year-old daughter walked into the kitchen and asked if I'd like to see her destroy the earth.
"I've increased Venus's mass by 10 times, Daddy," she told me, the statement peppered with intermittent giggle-fits. "It's going to pull the earth right into it and blow it up. "
In hindsight, I probably should have shown at least a little concern in my daughter's glee at having created a simulation — using the game "Universe Sandbox" — of our planet's imminent collision with a Hulked-out version of its celestial neighbor, but I was busy juggling multiple elements of our dinner-to-be to ensure everything would be finished around the same time. The country gravy was about to boil over.
"I can't right now, Arlie," I told her. "I'm working on dinner. And washing dishes."
Which reminded me: I cut the faucet off before the kitchen sink could overflow with sudsy water.
"Oh," I heard her say as I replaced the pot of gravy back on its burner, dropping the temp to prevent another near-spillover. "But it's going to explode into pieces. You'll love it."
At my feet, our oldest cat, Flannery, screamed up at me for a plate a plate of food.
"Arlie," I said, using my stern "dad voice." "I know you're excited about eliminating all life on Earth, but I'm cooking right now. I'll see it later."
Foul epithets slipped from my tongue as I realized I'd set the wrong temperature for the smashed potatoes that had already been baking in the oven for the past 20 minutes. I cranked the heat to what it was supposed to have been in the first place, then lifted the pot of country gravy from the burner just in time to stop it from almost boiling over again.
"OK, Daddy," Arlie said as she headed out of the kitchen, clearly disappointed.
I was in the middle of stumbling over the cat at my feet while simultaneously attempting to scrub some plates for us to use when it occurred to me I was letting Joanna Gaines down.
You know Joanna Gaines, right? Multi-millionaire creator of the Magnolia Network, host of "Fixer Upper" and beloved matron saint of Waco, Texas? Well, in the latest issue of Magnolia magazine — which I now study for work-related purposes — she writes a lot about how she had to learn how to practice patience.
"The truth we all know is that time presses on without any push from us," Gaines writes in an essay titled, "Worth the Weight." "So, I want to be grateful for chances to catch my breath. For stretches of space to simply behold where life has me right now."
That struck a chord with me. Since childhood, my attention has always been pulled in a thousand directions at once. It's difficult for me to finish one task without starting a handful more, and then quickly get overwhelmed .
The trick to managing this nasty habit is to slow the heck down. Work on a single task, knock it out, and then go on to the next. If something requires a bit of waiting, don't start something new. Wait.
I know this. But knowing something is different from practicing it, and that's why I frequently find myself flustered as I attempt to cook a multi-faceted dinner while also washing dishes while ignoring the wails of a starving cat while simultaneously trying to ensure my daughter's delight at the idea of imploding our solar system is just a phase and not a call for years of therapy.
"Listen to Joanna, Adam," I told myself while scooping a spoonful of Salmon-flavored mush into my cat's bowl. "What's the point of doing stuff if you don't take time to enjoy the stuff you're doing?"
I cut off the burners.
"Hold up, Arlie," I yelled into the next room. "I want to see the world get destroyed."
My daughter squealed in delight as we watched Earth collide with an engorged Venus, hunks of burning landmass spreading out across the simulated stars. In the distant kitchen, the oven began calling out for my return. I ignored it.
ADAM ARMOUR is the news editor for the Daily Journal and former general manager of The Itawamba County Times. You may reach him via his Twitter handle, @admarmr.