Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Afterglow of Unpleasantries

I've been told that I'm a natural administrator -- that I have a "gift" when it comes to organization and administration... But I must confess that I'm not so sure.

If I were a natural administrator, shouldn't I enjoy tasks such as organizing my personal library, or balancing a checkbook, or filling out paperwork, or arranging for the logistical elements of an event? Shouldn't I get a natural high from working with numbers, papers, and lists? Wouldn't it seem logical that my gift of administration should manifest itself in pride and joy when it comes to opportunities to administrate?

And yet, I find myself dreading these prototypical "administrative" tasks, often procrastinating until the last possible moment and basically trying to avoid such tedium as much as possible. Consequently, I often feel very unorganized, ineffective in administration, and just plain frustrated by the details of life.

But this week, I've taken the proverbial bull by the proverbial horns.

With a mountain of administrative tasks piled up around me, I decided that this would be my week to dig out. Thus within the last seven days, I've reapplied for residence permits for my family (which involved a trip with kids to the stadsdeelkantoor for a copy of my neighborhood registration, a trip with kids to the photography store for passport photos, and approximately 200 copies of various documents)... I've written a number of employment documents for another staff member with Zolder50 (job description, employment agreeement, letter of appeal for work permit, etc.)... I've filled out a series of expense reports (reimbursements are always nice, in that they put money back in my pocket, but the meticulous process of organizing receipts and tallying numbers tends to drive me crazy!)... I've read through a thick stack of documents (much of them written not just in Dutch, but in institutional Dutch -- like terms of reference for accepting a student intern from a Dutch seminary and legal jargon surrounding government permits)... I've reorganized my home library (including the assembly of some new bookshelves)... I've paid some bills... I've sat in on some organizational meetings... I've cleared my e-mail inbox (well, mostly cleared -- I'm sure everyone knows how that goes)... In general, I've administrated like a true administrator.

And now I find myself in an interesting position. Finally having completed (well, mostly completed) my mountain of administration, I actually find myself basking in the warm afterglow of a week's unpleasantries. That's right -- basking. While I wasn't looking forward to these opportunities for administration, I realize that there is a certain indescribable satisfaction that wells up within me from methodically checking items off my "to do" list. It turns out that my emotions toward a completed list of administrative tasks are, in fact (dare I admit it?), pride and joy.

So what does this mean? How should I interpret my callings, my responsibilities, my virtues, and my vices? Could it be that there may be a gift of administration nestled somewhere within me after all? Or am I simply responding to the latent desire within each human being to be productive? Unfortunately, I cannot muse on these questions for long. I'd better be checking my e-mail...


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Marco said...

Hey man, I know what you mean... Personally I have a natural drive to be organized (maybe it's a gift?), but I don't always feel like organizing.

But it does stand out to me that you're doing those administration tasks in institutional dutch in a country where bureaucracy is reigning supreme... That's not easy man!!! Not even for dutchies. So I totally understand your story

At 10:30 AM, Blogger patricia said...

Enjoyed the realness of your story as usual, Eric. Just yesterday, I organized receipts & filled in cash journals for two missions teams that were just here. I honestly thought this task would take me under an hour. Instead I worked on it for 4 to 5 hours and it's still not done!! The legions of electronic devices my task required were clearly against me in this case. I joked with a friend recently about our common modern day machines -- computers, printers & copiers -- and said, "We all know whose side THEY'RE on!!" They often feel like the enemy in my life, frustrating my every move. There's nothing worse than getting serious and setting your mind on some life-draining task only to be thwarted by a series of electronic failures. Well, I confess that I thought to myself yesterday, after this debacle, "I think Eric could have had this done in half an hour ... oh, to be like Eric!" So it is good to read your blog entry this morning and realize that you are a mere human struggling against the elements of undependable machines, tedious documentation and goverment bureaucracy just like the rest of us.
Perhaps more important than your gift of administration are your gifts of perseverance and faithfulness. Thanks for proving that there is victory to be had!!

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

Well, it's good to be reminded that others battle the same issues (and humorous that even Nederlanders have trouble wading through the seas of paperwork from the Dutch government!)... Thanks to both of you, Marco and Patricia, for your empathy and affirmation.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Noel Heikkinen said...

No one (and I mean absolutely no one) has ever accused me of being administratively gifted.

And yet I share your feeling of accomplishment / joy / relief when something administrative is accomplished.

Not sure what that means.


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