For the last week I have wanted to talk to you about procrastination. It’s been in my head constantly these past seven days, ever since I first sat down at this very same desk I’m sitting at now to begin a discussion on the fine art of delay. Not wanting to serve any advice before it was fully cooked, I decided to take a break and embrace my inner foot-dragger and see what would come from the practice of perpetual postponement.
So many fantastic ideas came flowing to me, solutions for old problems and plans for the future. I experienced so many touching moments. Joy abounded. The rewards seemed to be endless, and therein lies the problem — not a problem for me, as I was having a great time. It was you guys I was worried about. If I was going to get this message out before the end of times, I would have to defer from all this deferring.
I’ve been around the block a few times so I know the best things in life can be double-edged swords. But procrastination is more like a ninja throwing star. It can offer you so much, bring new experiences and give inspiration, but it can also get stuck in your head, and then that’s that. Just about midnight on Wednesday I finally felt I had procrastination mastered. I now knew what to hold off on and what to hold on to and decided to get back on the horse. (Referring to my desk in such a metaphorical way should have been a clue that I wasn’t ready yet.)
Then I get the call. A writer friend of mine was in town and looking for an afterparty. (And when I say afterparty, I mean an afterparty after the afterparty.) He had a roomful of acolytes and hours to stay awake before his plane took off, and I had a column to write, so naturally I agreed to open my bookshop and welcome the brood. I realized immediately that I was still in the grasp of the bitch goddess of the backburner. It was a great night and one I won’t soon forget, but I was back in the procrastinating game and hitting it hard. I was putting things off that I hadn’t even put on yet, and it was another four days before my desk was again a table and chair and not a metaphor.
I ask you to see my little saga not only as a cautionary tale but an invitation to compile your own guide to getting the most out of shilly-shallying — it has so much to offer. Don’t just malinger but malinger and meditate on all the options that life has to offer, and try not to let the social stigma get to you. There are those who will condemn you. Some will spout about how Freud ties procrastination to the pleasure principle, and others will spew that it is caused by a neurotic impulsiveness. I say to these naysayers that if pleasure is my engine, so be it, and as for neurosis, I propose that just like cholesterol there is the good and the bad and I’d much rather be impulsive than compulsive.
So here I am, back at the desk. Not that I want you to think my mind isn’t in the toilet — it is. I’m currently developing a new method for cleaning the tile grout, and I can’t wait to get back to it.