This year I’m not giving up anything for Lent, but instead plan to take care of all those small, time-consuming things that I’ve been putting off. Those things that Ogden Nash calls “sins of omission.” One thing per day. I’ll answer the greeting from a dear cousin that’s been sitting in my email box since Christmas, change the ink cartridge in the printer, so I can finally print out 36 pages of my daughter’s forms for camp, pay the unpaid holiday pledge I made to a patient charity. Maybe having these proclamations in writing here will help ensure that these things are all addressed — we’ll see. I am going to digitize and upload my photos! Make my son’s podiatrist appointment! Catch up on my thank-you notes! Send my Dad that book I told him about months ago! And maybe have some chocolate or a glass of wine when I’m done.
Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man
by Ogden Nash
It is common knowledge to every schoolboy and even every Bachelor of Arts,
That all sin is divided into two parts.
One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and that is very important,
And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you ortant,
And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of
omission and is equally bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people,
from Billy Sunday to Buddha,
And it consists of not having done something you shuddha.
I might as well give you my opinion of these two kinds of sin as long as, in
a way, against each other we are pitting them,
And that is, don’t bother your head about sins of commission because however
sinful, they must at least be fun or else you wouldn’t be committing
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you get really painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven’t taken out and the checks you haven’t added up
the stubs of and the appointments you haven’t kept and the bills you
haven’t paid and the letters you haven’t written.
Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of
Namely, it isn’t as though it had been a riotous red-letter day or night every
time you neglected to do your duty;
You didn’t get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse or forgot to pay a bill;
You didn’t slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry Whee,
Let’s all fail to write just one more letter before we go home, and this
round of unwritten letters is on me.
No, you never get any fun
Out of things you haven’t done,
But they are the things that I do not like to be amid,
Because the suitable things you didn’t do give you a lot more trouble than
the unsuitable things you did.
The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if some kind
of sin you must be pursuing,
Well, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.