The new week stretches out ahead of me, already dark and foreboding. I look ahead and see orders to be placed which should have been completed last week, guitars to be repaired which were scheduled weeks ago, and not least of all…tax reports to be completed and filed. You probably filed your taxes for last year way back in April. Not this brainiac! While you were struggling through your Form 1040s with W2s in hand and maybe even a Schedule C or a Form 1099 looming, I was happily filing an extension. I provided my Social Security number and a signature, and I was done. Quick and painless, just like that, while you were still wrestling with interest and dividends and trying to pin down your donations. Like the grasshopper, I fiddled while the silly ants scrambled back and forth gathering their food to fill their stores. Well, my winter has come and I’m gazing enviously at all of you brilliant ants, snug and comfy in your armchairs, enjoying Sunday and Monday Night Football (or perhaps even an episode of “Survivor”), while I try desperately to find the documents which I know were filed away somewhere in preparation for this fateful week.
Over my lifetime, I have worked diligently to perfect the skill of procrastination, a fact I’ve admitted freely to you before. I’ve also discovered that my affliction is common to many, if not actually most, of us who call ourselves human beings. We love to do the things we love, therefore we dispense with them in a timely manner. Conversely, we hate to do the things we hate and put those tasks off for as long as we possibly can. We’ve talked before about hard lessons and how we learn from them. Tolkien says it laconically, “The burned hand teaches best.” I can only wish that were true of this disability.
I have been here again and again, with a sure knowledge that I shall arrive at this point anew in the very near future. As I write this, I’m trying to conjure up some credible explanation for this habitual pattern. The only thing that springs to mind is the feeling which comes at the completion of a job well done barely in time. It could be that there is also just a bit of the rebel in me and this is my way of flaunting it. After all, what is more satisfying than getting to the Post Office just as the last mail drop is being emptied for the day and being able to drop the packages right into the mail cart? Or…how about being the last customer admitted to the Revenue Office as the doors are locked on the last day of the month in which your tags are due? Possibly…handing that English assignment to your professor at the last minute before the deadline to turn it in? I can feel those heads nodding out there. You’ve done that! You’ve even felt the sense of power it gives you, the satisfaction at challenging the deadline and beating it!
I must also report that Mr. Tolkien said, “It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.” I hear crazy talk like that from one of my favorite authors and am slightly disappointed, but then I remember that he left behind many unfinished manuscripts. In fact, the beginnings of his masterpiece, “The Lord Of The Rings” appear to have their origins sometime around 1920, but he didn’t actually publish the first of the books until the mid 1950’s. My faith in the man’s genius is restored.
But still, the week stretches interminably ahead. I shall endeavor to repair the damage already done. Oh yes…sometimes I miss the deadlines. Then, for some reason, with no chance of the excitement of last minute victory, the already tardy projects are left to languish, sometimes until the customer (and possibly even a Lovely Lady) demands completion. There is no joy, no satisfaction in completing a late task, simply the knowledge that it is done. Such is the danger of pushing the limits, of daring the deadline. Sometimes, the hand does get burned. I’m just not sure it teaches much in this case.
But I’ll square my shoulders and lift my head…and then? I shall accomplish what I can this week. Sometimes all we can do is what is in front of us to do. Sound simplistic? I just know that if I look at the mountain, I’m overwhelmed. But one by one, the jobs can be peeled away, hopefully to reveal a completed “to do” list. I’ve never been so lucky, but it’s always a possibility. Who can tell?
Oh! I’ll start working on my procrastination problem too. Of course, you know when. Why, tomorrow, certainly!
“…Not all who wander are lost.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien~English author~1892-1973)
“The hasty and the tardy meet at the ferry.”