Traditionally, the end of December is when we vow to begin the new year with some sort of self-improvement: stopping a bad habit or starting a good one; giving up something or taking up something; losing something or gaining something.
I, too, have been considering what would be an appropriate and realistic life change for me to work on in the coming year. I believe I have come up with just the thing for my personal New Year’s resolution, and so, this year I, Norman Knight, pledge to procrastinate more.
I didn’t come to this decision lightly or without struggle. Society puts all this pressure on you to turn things in on time, to focus on the task at hand, to set target dates, meet deadlines, blah, blah, and so I’ve lived most of my life with the belief that putting things off until the last minute was somehow a bad thing. I have even on occasion resolved to work on my tendency to procrastinate. Then last week, with just a few days remaining in 2012, I had what might be called a resolution revelation.
I was feeling a twinge of guilt because my column was due, and I hadn’t yet started on it. I admit I did not have what you would call a ball-of-fire attitude. I lingered over breakfast and coffee, read the newspapers thoroughly, completed a crossword, fed the birds and strummed my guitar a bit.
When I finally turned on the computer, I checked email, perused some favorite websites and played my Words with Friends turn. I was just about to start — honestly — when my wife read about the final day to apply for a mortgage exemption, and that, furthermore, we had not yet done so. Leaping at the chance to avoid work, I suggested we drive to the county courthouse to remedy the situation. Off we went.
The line stretched from the desk in the front of the building where two amazingly calm government workers were posted around the corner and down the hall almost to the outside doors in the back.
Apparently much of Johnson County had seen the same newspaper item. We were behind a lady who wanted to chat. The line was moving glacially, so we mostly listened, working a sudoku we had brought along while learning a lot about her life.
The two hours in line passed surprisingly fast, and then it was our turn. The woman who helped us was pleasant and solved our problems with a smile. I left with a slightly less cynical attitude toward government, at least on the local level.
We were parked near Benjamin’s Coffeehouse and decided to go in. This would mean it would be even longer before I got started writing, but, hey, we had to eat. We were just walking through the door as the parents of students I had had many years ago were heading out.
I introduced Becky and the four of us (they also are educators) chatted for a long spell.
After they left, the artist whose work was on display at Benjamin’s came in. It turns out she is a teacher in the school corporation with which both Becky and I are associated. We talked and learned about her efforts at using art therapy with children. Fascinating stuff.
We decided it was time to head home, and I suggested the longer country route rather than the slightly quicker highway trek. On the way, we were delighted to see a big buck — maybe 3 or 4 points — leaping and sliding down a steep embankment, snow spraying in his wake. Beautiful.
Eventually we arrived home to the blank computer screen I had been avoiding since morning. I sat down and accepted the inevitable. As I was sitting there cracking my knuckles getting ready to type, a thought occurred.
If I had been a responsible, nose-to-the-grindstone worker bee, I would have stayed home, thereby not seeing old friends, not having interesting conversations about education and art, not experiencing self-discovery and not being blessed with nature’s wonders.
Deadlines; schmedlines. In 2013 I resolve to embrace my inner procrastinator.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to email@example.com.