Procrastinating

Ah. This – procrastinating – is something I’m good at!

To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the first comprehensive English dictionary, Dr. Samuel Johnson defined procrastinate with a single word: delay. But there’s much more to it, an underlying reason for the delay, whether anxiety, wishful thinking, fear, some other emotion, or just plain laziness. I think the Merriam-Webster definition is better.

Procrastinating always comes with that underlying should adding an element of guilt.

Dr. Johnson surely knew that, because he later described procrastination as “one of the general weaknesses, which, in spite of the instruction of moralists, and the remonstrances of reason, prevail to a greater or less degree in every mind.”

Whew. Nice to know I’m not alone. Indeed, I’m in good company. In 1751, Dr. Johnson delayed writing the article containing that quote until the last minute, keeping an errand boy waiting outside before delivering it to the publisher of the weekly in which it appeared.

Sometimes, procrastination is rewarded, reinforcing the behavior. This happened many times during my legal career. I would put off preparing for a hearing or trial until the last minute because if the matter was delayed or settled, I hadn’t done unnecessary work for which my client would have to pay. Clients always appreciated this, and I liked happy clients, but it was a stressful approach to caseload management.

My current struggle with procrastination involves a blog post I know I should write, that I need to write as a sort of catharsis, but…I keep delaying. Why? Because telling the story means describing an encounter with a scarily angry, verbally abusive individual a couple of weeks go, an encounter that took days for me to fully mostly shake off, fearing for my safety. The encounter occurred three days before the election, and while the election never came up in the words exchanged, all the tropes bandied about by the local far right did, bringing into sharp focus the dangerous cultural divide that is becoming the norm here and in many western U.S. states.

In the meantime – procrastinating! – I’ll share some scenes from this morning’s quiet country walk in fresh snow, watching my dogs play. Winter seems to have officially arrived with eight inches of snow yesterday, more expected tonight. Consider this a placeholder.

dogs, fence, snow
Conall listens for movement under the snow (voles). Finn follows Conall’s lead, both because Conall’s tracks make moving easier for Finn’s shorter legs, and because Finn’s hearing isn’t nearly as acute.
dogs, snow, mountains
Conall pounces and Finn immediately dives in as well. I guess you could say Finn is Conall’s wingdog.
dogs, snow, fence
Fresh, soft snow is the best for vole searching. Apparently, for dogs, neither noses nor eyes get cold.
The boys demonstrate their technique.

27 thoughts on “Procrastinating”

  1. I don’t know for sure that you are procrastinating. Some stuff needs to ripen, needs distance and quiet, not-totally-conscious thought before we can write it. For example, it took a long time for me to write about my brother, longer to write about my mom. Now they are phantoms. ❤

    I read this while the dogs are outside so they won't see the pictures, never mind the video. 😉

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  2. Involved vs committed. Finn’s committed, as demonstrated by the total immersion head dive. Voles must be tasty. As the old joke goes: “Mom says I’ll never amount to anything because I procrastinate. I told her : Just you wait and see.”

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    1. Finn is committed, but lacks skill. The one time I saw him actually catch a vole, he was so startled when it moved in his mouth that he dropped it and it scurried away. Conall has skill. Even as a weeks-old pup he would catch them in the yard and bring them inside to show me, still alive, only to swallow them when I tried to take them away. Thankfully he soon decided they’re not very tasty, and quit bringing them indoors, but he still enjoys catching and releasing them (outside, usually alive). Just wish Conall had the same skill with the mice that find their way into my garage….

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  3. They look like they’re having great fun! I used to have something on my desk saying ‘procrastination is the thief of time’. I often find I procrastinate when I have time but too many things I want to do and then I don’t do any of them. When you’re ready to write that blog post it’ll come.

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    1. Yes, my procrastinating is always worse when I have too much time on my hands, as has been the case this pandemic year with little work or social obligations and few deadlines. I’m amazed at how much time I’ve wasted and scold myself. But, as Tokens of Companionship notes, the tension of the past several months HAS been mentally exhausting.

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  4. Yesterday I realized I was feeling relaxed for the first time in weeks. The tension these last few weeks was so constant that I wasn’t fully aware of it. It didn’t even go away last weekend after the calling of the election, despite the elation brought on by the news. After a week, something finally shifted, something subtle. We’ve all been under a lot of stress.

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    1. Right? A few days ago I realized I was finding my regular online news sites a bit boring, with fewer “breaking news” articles. We’ve all become so used to a steady onslaught of horror – the current admin, pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes – that it’s taking a couple of weeks to adjust to something closer to the pre-2016 normal. So much mental space is freeing up. Now, to just stop procrastinating and put that mental space and energy to good use…!

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  5. In my life procrastination seems to worsen with age. When I was young I was hyper. Wanted everything done yesterday. But now I can wait weeks before I get around to a chore I dislike. Love that snow. Can’t say I want to be in the snow, but it sure is beautiful to look at.

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  6. Wow, strap on the snowshoes. Nothing like a good hard run to help solidify your thoughts. This morning I read about violence between the ‘sides’ in a DC protest. We’re sliding into chaos. I’m not sure why Trump’s ‘side’ doesn’t see this and stop the slide which IMO is 100% on them. I realize that line-in-the-sand statements like that don’t help, but WTF, he lost. Let’s move on. Another election comes in 4 years.. So many people sick and dying and we’re paying attention to politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been procrastinating reading all my favorite blogs while blaming it on not enough time due to editorial re-writes on my novel. To tell you the truth – I’ve been procrastinating on that too! I’ve had this little button around for years but it doesn’t always help…

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  8. For me, there are two types of procrastination: the ripening kind, as Martha put it, and the “I need the pressure” kind that gets me amped up enough to tackle a project, or a deadline. Kind of an adrenaline fix. The ripening kind is harder for me, because how does one know when something intangible like an idea or a felling is ripe? I can’t squeeze it, or smell it, or check the color.

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    1. You’ve nailed it.

      I was dealing with the ripening kind or procrastination. My delaying was both good and bad; bad in that I continued tossing and turning at night, good in that new facts came to light during the time I delayed, giving me added insight and perspective so that I could finally write the piece.

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      1. I’ve read your piece. I’m letting it sit. So much to think about. I’m just glad your beautiful dog didn’t get shot! I kept fearing that as I read . I’ll post a response after marinating a bit.

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  9. I am so sorry to hear about your experience. I look across the pond at my human family in the USA and I’m so disheartened. Like a massive fault-line ripping the nation in two.

    I’m thankful you were safe. I hope so much that things get better after the new president is in. I know it will take a lot of work to rebuild after such horrific damage. Sending you strength and healing ❤️

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