Let’s address the reason why we are here. It is because most of us are expected to be somewhere else. I have been meaning to write a post on procrastination but, you know, I had other things to do. At age 26, procrastination seems to be the only skill I have perfected the most in life. I know the methods, the alternatives, the consequences. I could do a Ph.D on it, though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish it. Procrastination is close to the mystery of life itself. Sure, there have been studies on it, but no one has ever gotten to know why we do something else when we should be doing something something else. Let me give a shot at understanding this profound puzzle.
I can clearly remember when I started procrastinating. I was 11. The new session at school had begun and I decided to give up on learning. Why? I guess I am a slow learner, but I eventually came to understand the idea that everything that is to be learned has to have greater significance than mere knowledge. I didn’t take quite that perspective on things at the time though. I just realized that my way, the way of simply being curious and continually satisfying the joy of that curiosity had to be “evaluated” by a end-term examination of, say, two-hour duration, where any number of factors could affect its course. My year-long curiosity would be of no value and what I get would be reflective of that. I decided that I could not participate in such a system because it was inherently against how I functioned as a human being. I told myself, I’m never gonna be good enough for this so, what is the point?
This is not a rant about school life though. I loved school. Despite the “system”, it gave me a chance for developing myself in many ways. But, I also learned that you had to do things in life even if you don’t want to, because it’s your responsibility. And, that is when procrastination set in. The joy that I could not find in what I had to do, I found in what I did not have to do.
Procrastination is often confused with pleasure-seeking. And, hard work is often confused with masochism. It can’t be good if it is easy. It can’t be bad if it is tough. And now, you don’t need me to read 50 Shades of Grey to you(The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade is a better option) to know that it is not true. However, what is true, is that procrastination is our choice outlet when faced with responsibilities we don’t wanna be facing. Then, why do we do it? And is there any merit in doing it? That can only be understood when we survey the various, often complex, activities that constitute procrastination. Think of all the great men and women whose passion for their personal, creative work surpassed the responsibility of their day jobs. That is not to say that those seemingly mundane, unchallenging day jobs aren’t valuable things to do, That work is necessary for society to function and it provides a livelihood to many who aren’t geniuses. But, those jobs are not a fit with the genius of these greats. Thank goodness a lot of them have been successful but there are many unsung Miltons out there who, despite their ideas, have had to bite the dust.
So, is procrastination a choice, even a luxury? Is it a medium for flexing the brain’s creative muscles? Is it a necessary evil, or does that apply to responsibility? The questions add up and solutions are few but there are a few things we can derive. First, procrastination is separate from idleness and laziness, which again are very individual phenomena.The praises of Idleness as a state conducive to creativity have been sung by the likes of Bertrand Russell. Laziness is symptomatic of an individual person and is not an activity(or lack of) by itself.Procrastination, as I have mentioned earlier, is closer to life itself. Because, it is life. It is what we choose to do, what we want to do, for as much time as we can, as long as we can get away with it. Would you consider it laziness if someone read Anna Karenina before a Physiology exam? Our responsibilities, jobs, meetings, family, friends, workouts etc, are there to define us. They are what comes first to mind when we have to describe ourselves. But what we do when we procrastinate is closer to our nature than when we are shouldering responsibilities we cannot reconcile ourselves to. That is not to say that these responsibilities are against our natural inclinations. But maybe, the approach to them, or the uncontrollable factors they involve, or some other reason, could be making us avoid them. In such a time, procrastination is a way for the body to free itself of stress and distract itself with something that isn’t stressful. And often, during procrastination, the brain, while having your responsibilities on the back burner, may even be trying to tackle the problem while you are consciously working on, say, playing your guitar.
Getting frustrated with responsibilities is one thing. Getting frustrated with procrastination is quite another. I should know. Each day I lie in bed at night, trying to sleep, when all I think about is how I wasted the day doing things I semi-enjoyed instead of doing the things that scare the hell out of me.There needs to be a “re-evaluation” done here, don’t you think? Though you do know how I feel about those. Well, until I do something else…