Lewis: I can hardly wait…

By S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

I’m really good at procrastinating. It’s been something of a life goal of mine. I typically procrastinate for several hours during each of the first eight days of the week and then all day on the sixth Saturday of each month. But it isn’t random or unfruitful; rather, it’s what author John Perry calls “structured procrastination” in his book of similar title (which is rumored to have taken him 15 years to complete; and if you go to his blog you will see a photo of him at the beach, jumping rope with a length of seaweed — walking the talk, so to speak).

For Perry, procrastinating with purpose — getting a lot of things done, but not necessarily the right things at the right time or in the right order — is a lot different than sheer laziness. In other words, getting some things done is way better than getting no things done at all, if only barely. At least, there is the appearance of activity. It’s like the difference between a novelist unconscious with his head on his desk in a puddle of his own drool and a train engineer head back and snoring at 35 miles an hour. At least, the train guy will eventually get to Des Moines. I’ve made a five-decade study of structured procrastination (without knowing the technical term), and found an even greater benefit than the feign of proactive toil. For sometimes, when forced to do something that you really should have done three weeks ago last Tuesday, inspiration will strike and you’ll end up better off than if you’d done the right thing in the first place.

For instance, beginning in the middle of last April, and for something like the following 5,700 hours, I’ve known that I had to get the right tire (looking forward) of my snowblower fixed. Since it was flat. I didn’t do it because I had a bunch of other things to do: little everyday stuff like well, you know. Minimus quendam, as they say in Latin. Done with great structure and determination, of course.

So, anyway, what was I saying? Oh, sure. Hence came winter and me unprepared for such, and so I am forced two weeks ago, like a colonial pioneer, to shovel. Which, I hate. And I remember just how much I hate shoveling as soon as I heft the first load of wet cement over the dormant flower garden. And I can even see the snowblower, over there in the corner of the garage, impotent and heaved over on its side, tubeless and spent.

However, as I skid, lift and heave, amidst much structured grumbling and lumbar spasms, I get to thinking about a book I’ve been working on for the last year or so. The text is, lo and behold, complete, but the manuscript has been without benefit of title. Oh, I’ve tried. Written dozens of inane combinations over the months. Travail to no avail. Still, the tome remained headless. Then, whilst straining severely against that blasted shovel handle, something snapped and it just struck me. And while I was getting back to my feet and rubbing my forehead I suddenly thought of the title for the book. Just like that. Which, then set off a cascade of ferocious creativity such that I soon needed a nap. See what mean?

The moral of this story is that procrastination can, and often is, the birthplace of brilliance. So, with great anticipation, I’ve decided I shall not change the oil in my cars. Something’s going to happen. I can hardly wait.

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