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Scene In Club Lounge by Thomas Rowlandson, 1798

"A time will come, or not, …"

It seems to me that some days were not created to be seized. Procrastination has its rewards, not necessarily as a chronic form of engagement, but as an especially savory sort. I find wearying our long collective obsession with efficiency, for it seems to me that not every frog demands to be eaten at the beginning of every day. Some seem to beg for some contemplation, or even some strategic distraction, perhaps a clever tactical delay. Those observing might well diagnose procrastination as if that were a serious disease, and prescribe decisive action for relief, but I often find great relief in delaying an engagement, improving ultimate satisfaction that way. I seem to need to cogitate my way into some actions, for I sometimes waste my effort by simply jumping in before, for instance, determining the depth of a pond. Furthermore, few satisfactions seem to rise to the level I experience upon completion of a task I've long, or even overly-long, shirked. Plus, in those situations, I feel as though I've achieved on my terms, not the damned clock's.

Some of my forebears were strict Predestinationists.
They believed that God, in his almighty wisdom, had already charted each being's course long before they were born, and that each was born unknowingly holding their finite destiny. In their belief, God knew every hatchling's fate, that nothing could ever occur too early or too late, and that tragedy appeared as the direct result of inadequate faith in God's ultimate wisdom. The Book of Life was written long ago by a wiser hand, and no mere human action or intervention could possibly contradict its conclusions. They employed this curiously self-discounting logic to justify slavery because, after all, God must have predetermined slaves' roles in society, just as certainly as he'd predetermined their own position as ignorant backwoods Kentuckians.

I think of procrastination in a similar way, and, call me crazy, this little mind game seems to work for me. I firmly believe that some poems, for instance, simply cannot be completed within any allotted time. My record of on-time delivery of birthday poems has been spotty, for some of these babies simply need more gestation time before birth, otherwise they'll forever suffer the consequences of prematurity, and though later rewriting might aid in eventual recovery, the initial impact will forever remain underwhelming. Better, sometimes, to wait the bugger out, even if that means delaying delivery until a month or more after the blessed date. I claim that it was that particular poem's fate to arrive late, and I sometimes even incorporate that tardiness as a sub-theme in the the final delivered work. I believe that I was not so much shirking a responsibility as engaging in Procrastidestination, with an unseen wiser hand guiding mine.

I universally experience great relief when achieving one of these long-delayed closures. I feel overwhelmingly reassured, for the event confirms that I had not lost my touch, but that my own touch sometimes works in ways that even an all-wise deity might find confounding. Some work just seems to need a walk-around or two before anyone could get through it. Even some promising fun sometimes seems better left undone until some critical conditions magically converge. Then, all might be forgiven. Those weeks of sinful idleness resolve into a wisdom approaching Solomon's, and life can resume again with a modicum of self respect. It might well be that every ounce of procrastination performs an invisible form of exponentiation, ultimately producing much more return than anyone realizes by investing all in from the beginning. When the time finally feels right, little effort seems necessary to complete a task, and having thoroughly played through multiple scenarios before engaging, fewer dead ends emerge. One avoids more than work when properly procrastinating.

All those former paragraphs were just lead in to what I wanted to say today from here deep within the NowHere. I've noticed over the past few weeks a few peak experiences. Most days devolved into the Pandemic sameness we're still learning to appreciate, but a few stood on taller shoulders where the sky seemed clearer with the sun, uncommonly bright. Those days were convergence days, moments when a seemingly over-long procrastination finally manifested into compressed action, and some marvelous result appeared. It might have only been a bit of yard work long delayed or a commitment I'd long ago promised to make, but when each (finally) appeared, I no longer feared even my own harsh judgment. Each result seemed miraculous, as if it had been destined to be thus, Procrastidestination visiting. I understand that such experiences cannot be rushed, that they seem uncommonly wasteful, and appear to have been unwise investments until just after the returns come in. Another ounce of patience sometimes proves to be the absolutely appropriate cure, though nobody understands when it might be beneficial until long after its swallowed.

I might have an Nth sense for when delaying tactics might prove most appropriate, or maybe my sense of that sense is just some lame, ego-defending excuse. However much I might have achieved in this life so far seems far removed from the sum total of the effort I've put into achieving. My most stellar results have come incredibly easily, though I admit to experiencing lengthy periods of excruciating self doubt. It's all turned out okay anyway, and I can't help but persuade myself that it's turned on a matter of faith. Not faith in the all-knowing wisdom of even a major God, but in my own sporadic and inconstant belief in how things seem to be. When I find myself avoiding something as if it held a sparking electric charge aching to shock me, I'm learning to perceive some wisdom guiding me. Where I'd once chew my own leg off to appear decisive then experience a jolting shock for my hasty engaging, I'm accepting that I need not take my lazier afternoons as definition of who I deep down am. That Nth sense might be kicking in, advising me to not begin, to just let the damned enticement be for now. A time will come, or not, as Procrastidestination dictates.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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