What can wait…and what cannot. It’s a way to delay what needs to be taken care of, a way to juggle too many obligations and necessary tasks. It’s a manner of procrastination. And though it’s not a fun game, I’ve been playing it for as long as I can remember. This week, with all of the busy-ness of summer here on Beaver Island, I’ve been juggling plenty. Eventually, though, nothing can wait.
The bananas, nestled in a glass dish on the counter, are fine; they can wait. Then, suddenly, their skins are turning dark and they need to be turned into muffins right away. Every day, I pick cherries as they ripen on the tree; I’ve saved them in several covered bowls in the refrigerator. Until this morning, when they were threatening to turn to wine if they weren’t dealt with. So, today, I cleaned and pitted eight cups of pie cherries. They are simmering, stove-top, in a sugar syrup right now.
“Getting groceries can wait,” I say as I put it off from one day to the next. Until I run out of dog food, and I can’t delay any longer. “Getting gas can wait,” I tell myself as I drive right past the gas station. Until the red light warns me that it really shouldn’t be put off another single day. “The lawn can wait,” I’ve been saying as I watched it grow while I tended the garden, walked the dogs or picked cherries. Now, it is on the long list of things that cannot be put off any longer.
“Paying bills can wait,” I said, as I prioritized other tasks. Now, the first of the month is just days away, and those payments have to go out immediately. “Preparing for my workshop can wait,” I told myself all week while busy with other things. Now, the workshop is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, and there are a dozen things I have to do to be ready for it. “Sleep can wait,” I told myself when I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish framing artwork (a job that could not wait any longer!). Today, when I have a hundred jobs planned for this day off, I slept until nine o’clock this morning.
Procrastination, the way that I do it, has several negative consequences. First, I tend to take on too much, as I’m such an expert at juggling. Second, eventually things have to be dealt with, and it’s usually at the last minute. That means that everything, even tasks I would find pleasant, are being taken care of only when they have reached a state of urgency. And third, it often happens that several things “come due” all at once. Like today.