Procrastination and Living in the Present

As a chronic procrastinator, this comic by Josh Mecouch of Formal Sweatpants (based on this article over at You Are Not So Smart) makes my stomach lurch. Throw in some accusatory, guilt-ridden conversations with a “past me” (Why didn’t you do [insert urgent task here]?), and it’s too familiar.

But it’s not just pitifully pathetic to envision a future self doing all the things you want to have done but don’t want to do now: it’s the shadow of a necessary illusion. Even for the purposes of living well in the present, it’s just not possible to avoid crafting these imaginary selves. In order to make meals for the week actually happen, in order to enjoy a movie night next Wednesday with friends, we need these illusions, don’t we? It can’t all be “Yes. Laptop. Yes. Leonard Cohen cover. Yes Christmas advertisements and twinkle lights.” It’s gotta also be “Yes. Me, here, now, going to the store to buy soap for when we run out soon, so my future self won’t be stinky. Me, here, now, thinking my thoughts about the future in the present, updating a calendar filled with days that themselves aren’t real yet.”

What is it about envisioning the future that allows for both action-infused planning and avoidy-lazy procrastination? In either scenario with the sweatpants or the soap, why do we always make our future selves work so hard? I see her now, the future Sarah doing the work I could be doing right now! And lo, she won’t, she really won’t: she’ll resist, just like present me.

Well, eventually she will get to it, the important things. One of us Sarahs will, but that one’s never the same.

She’s always sitting here, right now, hands typing over the laptop, listening to the Leonard Cohen cover, glancing at Christmas advertisements and twinkle lights. And she’ll say, “Sorry, future me, past me, and present me. I’m too busy at the moment to talk to you three, but let’s chat again sometime soon.”

When Reading Tarot Cards Is Like Watching TV

Since this blog reflects my day-to-day preoccupations (so far, our awesome puppy, being creatively adrift, and, um, a basil plant?), it feels appropriate to write about a Tarot card reading I did for myself a few days ago. I’m still mulling it over.

I read Tarot cards like I read movies, TV shows, plays, and conversations I overhear in coffee shops: not in any particularly mystical manner, but knowing full-heartedly that I can learn something from anything, that there’s something useful in having narrative art laid before you. Beyond being entertained, if you want to, you can become a semi-reflective surface when you face it. (Yeah, very reverse-mimesis, you Aristotle fans.) If I look at how I react to characters or situations (find myself identifying with a character or person, for example) and have some semblance of self-awareness, I can learn just a bit more about myself by mulling over why I’m having a certain reaction. What features am I reflecting, what angles am I taking? It’s sort of like tossing a coin to make a decision, except you use your reaction to the random chance (No! Why wasn’t it tails?) to choose what you’ll actually do.

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