In What Light There Is: Procrastination
I can be pretty hard-working when I have a project to do. I get obsessed, ignore the world around me, and bury myself in work. The rest of the time I am a master at procrastination.
Today, I woke up remembering that my newspaper column was due in four days. Realizing that, I turned over and went back to sleep. I slept for two more hours. Sleeping is something else I am a master at.
When I woke up again, I looked at the clock. I supposed that I couldn’t really justify another hour in the sack. I sat up and pulled the laptop onto my bed, ready to write. I wrote one sentence. I decided I was hungry. I went downstairs and poured my morning Cherry Pepsi into a cup. (My doctor said I should have fruit for breakfast, and the cherries in the Pepsi takes care of that.) I turned on the tv. Cash Cab was playing. I love that show. I sat down in front of the tv and watched two episodes as I sipped on my soda. Finally, determined, I went upstairs and opened my laptop again.
I didn’t like the sentence I had written earlier. I deleted it. I had a few column ideas, but it was still morning, I reasoned. So I opened my recent computer game of Candy Crush. I would just play one game. Just one. It would only take 15 minutes or less, although I was going for a new personal best record. An hour later, I yawned. I felt really, really tired. What were those writing ideas anyway?
Authors often talk about writer’s block, and I’m a great believer in it. When I can’t write a thing, I blame writer’s block. When I can’t effectively conclude an essay, I call it writers block. When I fall asleep while writing, I call it writers block. “There it is again,” I think to myself. Such a pesky thing, this writer’s block.
A friend called just then and we talked for half an hour. So much to talk about. Did I want to go to lunch? I believe in the good angels and the bad angels of our nature, and I reflected with the good angel that I should really stay home and get my writing done. The voice of the bad angel was, however, much more persistent and persuasive. “Really? Give up going out for chicken teriyaki or pasta fagioli or cashew chicken? Anyway, you’d probably write better on a full stomach.” Ah, yes, I thought. Maybe something nourishing would ignite my writing. “What time, and where?”, I asked my friend.
After I hung up the phone, I glanced at my oversized hot tub and thought of its warmth and of the bubbles I could fill it with and the oils I could slather on myself and the calming effect of resting in that soothing water. I could even light candles. That sounded like something a writer would do. And I have read that a calm spirit assists in good writing. My luncheon date was half an hour from then. Just enough time for a bath, but not enough time to get much writing done.
My friend and I ate at a leisurely restaurant, and we spent an hour shopping at the nearby quaint stores. I bought myself a new writer’s notebook, assuring that a great column would spew forth once I got home.
“Should we get some coffee and dessert before we go home?”, my friend asked. The bad angel was quick to raise his voice again. “How long could it take?”, he asked. Yeah, it wasn’t quite mid-afternoon yet, I persuaded myself. And oh, that carrot cake with butter cream frosting tasted sooo good.
On the way home, I scolded myself. “When I get back, I am writing, no matter what. Soon I’ll have only three days left to write this.” Ah, yes, this had to get done today.
When I got home, my dog Tucker ran up to me, his tale wagging. Oh no, he needed me to walk him. “Okay, but it’ll be a short walk today. I have to write.”
It was one of those early balmy spring days that fool us into thinking that springtime is here to stay. Tucker and I bought it. He stopped at every single mailbox post along the way even when he didn’t have any pee left in him. “I’ve got to get home,” I reminded him. He paid no attention to me, stopping at yet another mailbox. “Easy for you to say,” I told him. “You don’t have any work to do.”
When we arrived back, I removed his leash, took out my laptop, and sat on the couch. I wrote down several column ideas I had been thinking about. I looked at the clock and was startled. It was 3:30 pm, the exact time when Jeopardy begins. I never miss Jeopardy. And anyway, my body was tired from all of that walking and eating. Besides, I still had three days left to write. I pulled the couch pillow behind my head. “What the heck,” I thought to myself as I rested my body against the softness of cushions.
On behalf of procrastinators everywhere, I remembered Scarlett O’Hara. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Linda Flashinski is a retired educator whose column, “In What Light There Is,” will appear periodically in the Family & Life section. The phrase is from a poem by the late John Ciardi who wrote, “And still, I look at this world as worlds will be seen, in what light there is.” You may reach Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright, Linda Flashinski, 2017.