I’m in a procrastination nation of my own making. It’s governed by rules of putting things off until tomorrow and the currency is little slithers of dopamine from mobile games. Right now, the country is in turmoil and a civil war is brewing against the establishment. Like all revolutions this one is hard fought and I fully expect the regent governors with the names: “Do it Later”, “Not now”, “Another time”, and “I should watch The Office again” will be summarily executed. The guillotine comes down and Marcus Aurelius is the executioner. A rather poetic image.
“Ask yourself this about each action: ‘How does this sit with me? Shall I regret it?'” – Meditations 8.2
Do I regret inaction? Or is inaction a part of being actively passive? Is there a difference between being actively passive and procrastinating? I’m arguing with yes because I don’t feel regret for being so actively passive; for meditation and taking in the world around me, breathing in the new spring air and standing in the sun with a coffee. I regret babbling on about pure shit to a friend on the internet to avoid doing work. Perhaps that’s the difference. One is enriching to the greater benefit, the other isn’t. What’s enriching about sharing a story about being on a date with someone who thought reciting an entire episode of Drag Race would be endearing? I’m not sure how much my friend got out of it.
How much of our activities as human beings procrastinating? For example, X, watches Judge Judy everyday without fail then some days says:
“Well I can’t go for my run now it’s too late.”
The sun is shining, dinner can wait, Judy won’t care – but we mustn’t miss the end(!). Or another example: a person I work with will talk to me about Harry Potter for twenty minutes – knowing full well I don’t care about the story or the characters or what the views of the author are – to avoid a simple task. Another: I made three coffees today to avoid doing work.
I know I’ve spoken before about disagreeing with Marcus about inaction but I was making a different point about enjoying life rather than racing to the end. Procrastination, in this sense is putting of things that need to be done before the end. A fear of failing these things perhaps? What if I go to Goa and hate it, and fail at being happy. What if I fail at the work I’m meant to be doing today? What if? What if?
Enough of what if. Only what is.
“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
What are you putting off through fear of failure not because of planning, nor waiting not even being cautious. Fear of failure is procrastinating. I did it all the time with maths homework in Year 9, I’m doing the same with actual work. Sure take your time on a job, make sure it’s done properly, like a good philosophy or a garden shed. But you have to start somewhere, sometime – now is the time. This blog is an example. Its existence an act of revolt against the Procrastination Nation.
“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were you last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.” – Meditations 7.69