Sunday, July 17, 2011

Procrastination for Breakfast

Yesterday morning, I heard my neighbors chatting on their deck and smelled their good breakfast smells.  I felt a little envious of their laid-back approach to weekends, so instead of jumping into the work I had going, I decided to sit on the deck with a mug of tea and the local paper.  

But here's the thing:  Reading the local color, I discovered several...typos.  Before I knew it, I was lasering through articles, highlighting errors, and planning a trip to the newspaper editor's office to convince him that he ought to hire me as a proofreader.  Regular income, however small!  What a concept! 
I must be explaining something.

Before I knew it, I was...WORKING. Saturday morning, and the brain was grinding, the pencil circling .    My neighbors were still lazily chatting. Okay, they were chatting in Russian, and they're both scientists, so for all I know they were hashing out theories about DNA and inter-office brain chemistry, but they SOUNDED lazy.  

People with regular jobs have it so easy, I thought. Their weekends are weekends.  (my neighbors get in their cars to go to work.) Freelancers like me never stop working.  I can't sit on the deck with a freakin' newspaper without...

You get the picture.  Later I learned the truth: My neighbor's job is so stressful that when she wakes up on a weekend, her brain is madly whirring with all the household stuff she can't get to.  "I make myself sit out on the deck," she told me later, "Otherwise I'd never relax."  Actually, she admitted, "I'm procrastinating. It's hard to face all the household stuff."  

I say, let's hear it for procrastination. If we have to make ourselves sit in the dappled shade for half an hour on Saturday morning, it's gift to ourselves.  And to our work--T. S. Eliot spoke of the "necessary laziness" of the poet, a notion that could greatly benefit all of us.  It takes courage to put the pencil down without the distraction of electronic devices; to turn your back on the urgent and spend unshaped time alone with yourself or someone you love.  If all you do is what you have to do, you'll miss the universe.
"I am moved by fancies that are curled/Around these images, and cling:  The notion of some infinitely gentle/Infinitely suffering thing."  From Eliot's Four Quartets



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