Deep reflection, dear reader, is an art.
Some naive, inexperienced people might sneer and say that reflection is but another word for procrastination, but they know not of what they speak. Reflection is when you think deeply about a topic and come to a meaningful and hitherto unknown realization.
Procrastination, ah, now that is a skill that very few people truly acquire.
Procrastination is not merely putting things off until a later point of time, although that is certainly how amateurs define it. That is something all of us do, and it is mere laziness. Not doing something does not qualify as procrastination. Perish the thought, and allow your columnist to explain.
Engaging yourself in some other activity, with the knowledge that something else that is far more Important remains pending is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for actually procrastinating. For again, most people are capable of this feat.
Engaging yourself in some other activity, and deriving enjoyment from it, but not so much that you forget all about the more urgent task at hand – and keeping this state of affairs going for extended periods of time – that, in the undersigned’s considered opinion, is procrastination.
One must continue to be tortured by the thought that more important work could be done, while enjoying whatever it is that one is doing – but the enjoyment musn’t reach a level where one forgets the more important work altogether. It is this difficult balance, this ability to restrain one’s joy on a near perennial basis, that sets the men apart from the boys when it comes to the subtle and difficult art of procrastination.
PhD candidates who happen to be reading this column might find themselves nodding in appreciation, as might students with an exam to write on the morrow. Writers, of any and all sorts, people with urgent deliverables, and anybody with a deadline looming on the horizon will all appreciate the point being made.
For procrastination is a wilful delay, you see, of what really ought to be inevitable. It is the cocking of a snook at responsibilities, the giving of the central digit to a commitment, the wilful deviation from a promise – that you will eventually keep, yes, but not at just the present instance. And the longer you keep doing that, the better a procrastinator you are.
In other words, when one accuses someone of procrastination, one is really paying a compliment. For as I have shown above, it takes monumental skill, restraint and dare I say it, talent, to practise procrastination on a consistent basis.
This is the meaningful and hitherto unknown realization that I have chanced upon while reflecting deeply on the topic of procrastination. And have fashioned a column out of the whole exercise, while at it. Which, if you think about it, is truly remarkable, because I was procrastinating having to write the column in the first place.
An issue worth reflecting deeply upon, if you ask me.
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
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