On Delays and Departures

 

When I was young, I put everything off until the last possible minute.

All my school projects were completed the night before the deadline. I hastily scribbled my homework an hour before handing it in. I even did some creative design projects for pay in my high school days. These too, I completed at the last possible minute.

This, of course, is not exceptional. Lazy young people are everywhere. If anything, it’s more interesting to hear about a student who always does things on time.

But there’s a reason we’re talking about this now. Dear reader, there is always a reason. Even when the reason is that there is none…

There is a seductive element to delaying the mandatory tasks we find ourselves obliged to. Each moment spent not doing something is a sweet relief from the inevitable pain of action. Each wonderful hour spent playing video games or walking idly around the neighborhood was a blissful release. But the pleasure there was always bittersweet, and therein lies the vicious seduction which preys upon us as we mature.

As we grow up, we learn to mitigate these tendencies. We learn to schedule ourselves. We show up to work on time, and we perform the same tasks over and over each day, working towards something bigger than we can accomplish in a crowded Monday morning. We hope that we learn, at least, but in many of us the lazy teenage spirit lives on.

For me, it comes out when I’m hungover.

These past few years, and in 2019 especially, I’ve learned to work diligently on long-term projects. I taught myself two new languages by studying (almost) every day. After many years of starting countless writing projects, in 2019 I worked on a novella which is finally nearing completion. It comes out soon, I swear… Just… A bit more polish…

I like to think I’ve departed from my old delaying ways. I’ve made many departures in my life, and I like to think that I will one day truly depart forever from my lazy teenage years. I’d love to leave all that worry and angst and self-loathing behind. I’d realize my true adult self, and I’d become a person who can work hard on important things and always follow through on the goals I set for myself.

This, of course, is a departure from reality. The idea that anyone can simply transform themselves is at best a delusion, and at worst a psychosis. We may berate ourselves for our failures to live up to our own unrealistic expectations, and we lose sight of the great strides we’ve made on the way to our perceived failings. This has been a major failure of mine in the past few years.

I accept that procrastination may forever be a part of my life. I set goals and expectations for myself, and sometimes I fail. I’ve learned to be at peace with that fact. The ability to recognize one’s own limitations is a sign of maturity. At least, that’s what I’m going with for now. We have to learn to view our goals not as a benchmark with which to gauge success or failure, but as a target at which to aim. If we miss a target at the shooting range, we don’t tell our gun it’s worthless. We take aim once more and shoot again.

The ego investment in goals is another departure I’d like to make. I desire to be the best person that I can be, and that desire has driven me to achieve some remarkable things in this past decade. But it’s also made me less happy than I used to be. At some point in the last few years, I’ve lost my natural sense of peace and gratitude.

The nice thing about peace, though, is that it’s always there in the back of your mind waiting for you to remember it.

What I’m trying to say here, is… If you find yourself delayed… If whatever goal you set your mind upon doesn’t materialize as quickly as you wanted… Forgive yourself. Adjust your goal, and just try to work on it every day. That’s all we can do.

Departingly yours,
Jack

 

 

P.S.

The Wanderer just needs another little coat of polish… Release is delayed until… Um… February 1st? TBD. Soon, though!

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