The power of procrastination
Vail, CO, Colorado
You know the old question ” if you had to choose between the superpowers of invisibility or flight, what would it be? Apparently your choice is supposed to offer deep insight into your psyche. If you choose invisibility, you have something to hide. If you choose the power of flight, then you feel confined and unexpressed in your life or you’ve recently had to fly commercial out of DIA or something like that.
I was thinking about this choice just yesterday, and I realized that I don’t need to choose one of these superpowers, because I already have one.
I have the power of procrastination.
Now, if you think that procrastination can’t actually be called a “power,” that’s because you don’t do it as well as I do.
(Cue dramatic music. Begin voice-over.)
Whenever work is in danger of being completed in a timely manner, whenever focus, efficiency or productivity rear their ugly heads, wherever decent Americans cry out for distraction, that’s when I duck into a nearby phone booth, shed my civilian clothes, don my costume and then proceed to flip aimlessly through the Yellow Pages ” wow, there’s TWO mobile dog-washing services in this town! ” make a quick sketch of the coin return slot, realize that I have some change in my other pants, enough to make a few calls, which I do, despite also having a working cell phone, just seems like using a pay phone will be a neat little novelty and chitchat with whomever I call about how I’m actually in a phone booth, remember phone booths? Yeah, I know!
Weird, huh? Seems like not so long ago they were everywhere. Does that make me old? Well, anyway, just hanging out, thought I’d call, see what’s up, guess I should get on with my superhero duties now, OK, bye ” and I emerge, eventually, as … Procrastination Man!
Elderly Lady: “Help! Procrastination Man! My kitten’s stuck in the tree.”
Procrastination Man: “Fear not, gentle woman, as soon as I manage to get from ‘The Battle of Hastings’ to ‘Pink Floyd’ in less than six clicks on Wikipedia I’ll be right there.”
Lassie: “Bark, bark, bark!”
Procrastination Man: “What’s that? You say Timmy’s stuck in the well? I’m on my way, just let me check my Facebook account real quick. Oh, and I should probably make some progress on organizing these office supplies.”
If you still doubt my astounding powers of procrastination, consider this ” I’m actually writing this column to avoid doing something else! This is a new height of putting-things-offedness, even for a master like me.
Here’s the thing: When I set off to go on tour last summer, I vowed to keep up with my finances along the way like a good freelancer should ” save and notate receipts, keep my Quicken file current, log and catalog and categorize all my earnings and expenses, etc., so that when I came home from my tour four months later, I’d be all up to date and responsible.
This lasted exactly one week. After that my on-the-road record keeping devolved to this: Any checks I received I shoved into an envelope labeled “checks” and any cash earnings went into my front pocket, labeled “beer.” All receipts went into an oversized envelope, which I never actually got around to labeling.
Now, with summer a distant memory, this dense wad of incompletion and irresponsibility sits before me in my office, demanding to be made sense of. And it throws off a heat and energy not unlike a fireplace ” I can’t get too close to it lest I scorch myself. Or, more likely, fall asleep. All around it things are getting done. I’ve avoided tackling this bookkeeping supernova for so long that I’ve actually run out of ways to waste time and am now having to resort to doing useful, productive things ” things that actually NEED to get done ” as a way of avoiding it.
See? That’s the power of procrastination. I’ve cataloged my photo library, for God’s sake. Learned new functions on my digital camera. Answered every pending e-mail. I’ve put felt pads on the bottoms of the kitchen chairs! I’ve pruned trees! Anything ” ANYTHING ” to avoid having to dive into this CPA’s nightmare.
In fact, now that I’m done with this column, I think I’ll get to work on creating a makeshift phone booth in my house. Just in case…
Read more about Barry Smith’s adventures at http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com.
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