A Procrastinator’s Guide From A to Z
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just wave a magic wand and fix all of our problems?
The house is clean, the dog is washed, that pesky hole in the ozone layer is gone, and all of our dreams have come true.
I want a magic wand! While I was attempting April’s A to Z Challenge, I had a little “Oh no!” with my left arm. I have some carpel tunnel issues in both of my wrists, but the titanium plates in my left arm—parting gifts from breaking my arm during my horsing-around-with-actual-horses years—hasn’t helped. Long story short, I had some painful swelling going on, limiting my ability to type/wiggle fingers/unscrew the top off of a milk jug with my left hand. If you’ve ever had to recover from a serious injury, you soon discover that your body never mends back to its original specifications. I still have scar tissue in my arm. My surgeon was great, but he needed extra hardware to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
My left arm will never be the same as it was before my accident. How can it be?Fourteenish years ago, back when I broke my arm, it looked like I had two elbows, my injury way that bad. Through the wonders of modern medicine, I was pieced back together. I am a living example of Kintsugi. My titanium plates and scar tissue are a part of my history, a reminder that EVERYTHING can change in an instant. One moment you’re trotting along through beautiful meadows, woods, and fields…then suddenly you’re on the ground, looking at the the sky, holding your useless appendage. One minute you’re fine, seconds later you’re wondering how you’re going to get yourself away from the wonders of nature and into a hospital!
We’ve all had occasions when we wished there was a magic wand to fix a problem or a particularly bad situation. I keep looking for a better set of wrist guards to wear while I sleep, a better keyboard for use while I type, something ergonomic. I don’t want to be in pain. I want to be “normal” again. I want to go back in time, back to a place where I could type as long as I wanted, without swelling or painful consequences. I don’t like to have to plan ahead, to limit certain motions, to think about how I’m going to do things that other people take for granted. I want a magic wand, fix-it-forever, kind of action.
Procrastinators want EVERYTHING to be fix-it-forever. They want to organize a room or a drawer, and have it stay perfect. Forever. They want to do things once and that’s it. They lament about their problems. “I just finished doing the laundry last week. Now, it looks like I never touched it.” They want everything to be perfect and pain-free the first time around. One and done! They have a difficult time letting go or seeing things as never-ending cycles. If things don’t happen when they think they’re supposed to, the procrastinator will give up and quit.
I struggle against my nature on a daily basis. When my arm became swollen, I realized I wouldn’t be able to complete the A to Z Challenge the way it was planned: specific posts written on specific dates, during a specific month. My arm was in pain. I had to allow it to rest. I could still do other things, like work in my garden, as long as I worked carefully, methodically. I could do most of my other daily tasks, but I had to stay away from repetitive motions while I waited for the swelling to go down. I elevated, iced, and took ibuprofen. I used my time away from writing to enjoy other things.
In the past, I would have used my downtime to wallow. I would have felt like I failed the challenge, like I was a failure. I would have rationalized. “If I’d planned ahead, things would have been different.” If I can’t have a magic wand, perhaps I should have used a crystal ball? Like there was a way to look into the future and NOT smack my arm into yonder random heavy object, RIGHT where my titanium plates are, resulting in painful swelling? Or…perhaps I should have avoided breaking my arm in the first place! I could have wrapped myself in Styrofoam, just to be safe.
All or nothing.
Do it perfectly or not at all.
Perfectionism clouds the procrastinator’s judgement. “I’ve waited so long… What’s the point of doing it, now? Why bother?” The point is, perfection doesn’t exist! Very few things fall into the fix-it-forever box. You can’t always plan for every contingency. Sometimes, all you can do is draw the best rainbow you can make with the three broken crayons life has pelted at you, and say, “Good enough! This is, all I can do at this time, but I’m still moving forward.”
PS Thank you for your support and kind words. I sincerely appreciate all of you!