I’m thinking about writing a book about procrastination. I think I’ll start tomorrow.
It’s a rainy day here in the QC, the kind that makes you want to avoid everything that you are “supposed” to do. As for me, it’s nearing the end of the quarter, and the stack of papers I have to grade sits precariously, threatening to avalanche at any second.
Despite this, I’ve chosen any number of things to do before starting this task I had put before myself today: reading about time and eternity, cooking breakfast, trolling facebook, cooking down all the decomposing vegetables in my fridge to make vegetable stock, sorting and soaking black beans, sorting and soaking red beans, taking my guitar out on the porch and playing songs about rain, watching a TED talk about happiness (which I highly recommend). And now I’m writing a blog post, which I had to put a gun to my own head to grade the last two papers in a class set just to get to.
Such is the virtue of my Saturday morning procrastination, or as my brother-in-law David calls it, “being clutch.” Truthfully, I’ve been reading papers about national language and technology all week long, and I’ll bull through them just like all the ones I’m taking up next week at some point. Procrastination is such a guilty word, suggesting what I’m doing is inherently incorrect by contrast to what I ‘should’ be doing, as in ‘I should be grading papers, because grades are due in two weeks, and I always get stressed out around exam time, so working now will alleviate some of that pressure in the future.”
Last year as I was going through this process (because, yes, like the seasons and bad reality shows, it returns annually), I found a quote from Tao te Ching particularly helpful: “Do your work then step back.” My work is always going to be there. As long as I teach English and Philosophy, as long as I assign work, I am going to have to grade it. But I’ve come to the point where I’ve stopped feeling guilty about not getting up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday to do more of what I do all week anyway. I’m embracing procrastination as the virtue of evaluating how important all pursuits in my life are, and how I want to balance them out, not as a guilty pleasure.
“Living in the moment” is such a trite phrase, and it has such hedonistic overtones that it is easy to discard it. I might know that drinking five milkshakes might cause me pain and poor health down the road, but justify it by “living in the moment.” But an idea in my morning reading stuck out. Living in the present (eschewing anxiety over the past and future) doesn’t constitute or guarantee any sort of spiritual happiness. Indeed, that happiness is often animalistic and short lived (as in five milkshakes). However, we can not be open to a more transcendent happiness without it.
So on a stormy Saturday calls to blog or pluck guitar strings, I will. For know, the post is over, and my papers are my present.