Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hurry up! We don't have all day!

You know, I distinctly remember when I first became impatient. I was a kid (about five or six years old) and living in El Paso Texas. I was in kindergarten, and (oddly enough) I was in trouble. I don't know if I had popped off to the teacher (very likely) or gotten in a fight with a girl (and most likely lost!) or what, but I was told to stand out in the hallway until my parents got there. Then we were all going to have "a little talk".

[Note: This is where I began to refer to my teacher as "Miss Blackston, The Ogre". Make no mistake; I was the ogre. Ms. Blackston was actually quite nice! But I digress...]

I began standing in the hallway with all the patience in the world! I could wait until the end of time for my parents to show up! In fact, it would have been just fine with me if the earth opened up and swallowed them whole and they never got to the school (mind you, the full ramifications of such an event were not particularly evident to my still-forming mind; I just didn't want to get spanked!).

Then, as I looked out the window in the door at the end of the hall, I saw my parents' brown (or was it blue?) station wagon with the realistic wood-like panels pull up outside.

Now back then (1977-ish) kindergarten was split into a morning class and an afternoon class and I was in the morning class. My parents would get to the school ten minutes or so before the morning clas let out, so as to be waiting for me when I came outside. (For all I know, my two older brothers had to walk home after school; I really was only paying attention to myself in those days!)

So as I was saying, I saw my folks pull up outside. At this point, with my very life at stake and no other choice that I could see, I made a break for it! After a quick glance at Miss Blackston (The Ogre)'s door, I ran as fast as I could down the hall, hit the door running, and srinted to the side of the afore-mentioned station wagon. I started yanking on the door and began my first truly impatient outburst:

Me: "Let's go! Time to go!"

Mom: "Honey, what's wrong?"

Me: "Nothing! School's out, let's go home!"

Mom (suspiciously): "Honey, school isn't out for another 15 minutes! What are you doing out here?"

Me (desperately): "They let school out early! We have to go now!"

Mom (totally not buying it): "Oh really? If school let out so early, where are all of the other kids?"

Me (grasping at straws): "Their parents already got them! Let's go!"

You see? Impatient.

Needless to say, Mom ended up disbelieving her darling little boy. I know, I know; that's hard to believe after such a convincing performance (C'mon! We have to go home NOW!) but somehow she saw through my little ruse and marched me right back in to the school. When she led me in to the classroom (still a good five minutes before the bell), Miss Blackstone (The Ogre) narrowed her eyes and a tiny bit of smoke seemed to curl out of her nose as she stared at me. All the other kids in class went "Oooooooooo!" at the prospect of a public execution and I tried to make myself as small as possible.

Now, I can't say I remember what happened next. I'm certain there was a stern talking-to involved, but as this WAS the late seventies and we WERE in Texas; there was almost certainly either a belt or a ruler involved in the conversation as well.

The entire situation was created by my impatience! To this day I am certain that if I had just been a little more patient; if I had just taken a few more seconds to more finely hone my arguments (C'mon! We really have to go home NOW!), I would have most certainly convinced my Mom that school was let out early and she needed to take me home right away!

A VALUABLE lesson learned as a result of a childhood trauma (or drama, as the case may be)!

We all get impatient some times. Sitting at a traffic light, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for the ant hill to catch fire as you try to hold the magnifying glass steady; all opportunities to get impatient. But where does all this impatience take us? Nowhere, that's where! So let me give you a few tips on how to be more patient when you least desire to. After all, you may need Mom to take you home "RIGHT NOW" yourself some day!

Ten simple methods for being patient, and the best times to use them:

1. Take a deep breath! ~~ This method is most useful when, after being chased for seven or eight miles by a swarm of angry African Killer bees, you finally come upon a lake or a pond you can jump in to keep them from stinging you.

2. Count to twenty-five. ~~ Works best when you have just made a critical parking error outside of a biker bar. If you get anywhere near this number while counting the number of motorcycles you have just knocked over, do NOT be in a rush to go into the bar. In fact, the opposite direction may well be the wisest.

3. Eat a cookie. ~~ Use this strategy before you cavalierly agree to go on a hunger strike to protest the unfair treatment of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie by the press. After all, they aren't going to eat it, are they?

4. Hum "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall" quietly to yourself. ~~ I find this one useful whenever I'm waiting for a crowded elevator to hurry up and get to the thirtieth floor already because I have GOT TO GO! It doesn't get the elevator there any faster, but it encourages the other passengers to get out of the way as soon as it arrives.

5. Make a list of home improvements you wish you knew how to do. ~~ It is critical that you do this before blindly rushing into a drywall installation in your bosses $3 million house just because he idly mentioned at a staff meeting that he's looking for a good general contractor.

6. Jog in place for twelve seconds. ~~ Use this any time you hear the phrase "First one there gets to-(garbled, obscured, interrupted)-my colon! There are some races you do NOT want to win!

7. Think of all the times a slingshot would have come in really handy over the past week. ~~ If you an think of more than seventy-one, your next stop should be a therapist.

8. Make up your mind once and for all between Kirk and Picard. ~~ When the flame wars begin in earnest on your favorite bulletin board, you canNOT be seen to flip-flop! Otherwise you'll be labeled as nothing more than an opportunistic Ferengi who switches allegiances willy-nilly depending on who is winning and doesn't care at all about the fundamental differences between commanding a Constellation-Class starship versus a Galaxy-Class with families and civilians to be concerned about and besides, the rules of engagement were more flexible in Kirk's time so of course he would be able to...well, you get the point.

9. Let the deep breath out. ~~ Do this as soon as you feel it's safe to come up. After all, those bees can't wait up there forever!

10. Run! Run like the wind! ~~ Gaaaahhh!! The Bees! They're still here! For the love of God, get them off, GET THEM OFF!

As you can see, patience is a virtue. If we would all just step back for a few seconds and think before we act, there might be just a little less strife and heartache in this world.

I mean, wouldn't we all be just a little happier if the-powers-that-be had thought a little harder and longer before letting Jean Claude Van Damme make "The Quest"?

Wouldn't there be more harmony in the world if the guy that thought up "New Coke" had been a bit more picky in which ideas he floated to his boss?

And honestly, wouldn't it be great if I had been able to convince Mom that it really was time to go?

I know my butt would have appreciated it!

-Sage Words

I'll get to that right away! In a few minutes...

Procrastinate. Webster's Universal College Dictionary (1997 edition) defines it thusly:

"to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost"

I find it interesting that, since I've decided to FINALLY get off my butt (or, more precisely, back on my butt in front of the computer) and write another article; procrastination is the only topic to really leap into my head.

I find it even more interesting that, as I've decided to write about my own issues with procrastination, and as I've further decided to begin with the definition of the word, I find it immediately preceded in the dictionary by the word "proclivity" (natural or habitual inclination or tendency; propensity; predisposition).

For those of you that know me, you know that I have two fairly pronounced proclivities; one is to procrastinate, and the other is to notice completely meaningless things like the fact that "proclivity" comes right before "procrastinate" in the dictionary! (I also noticed that "procrastinate" is only two entries away from "proctology" but I don't want to explore that avenue right now! I'll save that for another time!)

So let's talk about procrastination for a bit. Why does one do it? Here's a great example:

Just as I wrote the words "Why does one do it?" above, I got a little *bing* to tell me that I've received an e-mail. I flipped over to my inbox and saw that the e-mail contained a .pdf file. I opened it up and, as I was reading it, I was notified that my Adobe Acrobat Reader software was out of date and would I like to update it? Naturally, I want the latest and greatest software to read .pdf's so I clicked on the "yes" button. This led me to a new browser window with instructions on downloading the files I need to upgrade the software I need to read the .pdf I need to tell me how to participate in the short-story contest I'm entering because I'm so tired of procrastinating on my writing! You see what I mean? Holy cow!

So anyway, I'm a procrastinator. Come to think of it, I come from a long line of procrastinators. My Mother spent years procrastinating over a book she wrote. The rest of the family hounded and cajoled her more or less constantly until she FINALLY finished the dang thing and got to work on having it published. Now, about a year later, she has a published novel and is hard at work procrastinating over another one!

My Dad is at least as bad. Somewhere out there is an old 1976 Chevy Malibu station wagon, lime green; the unfortunate victim of a car fire, with the charred remains of either a letter or a package that he swore to my Mom that he mailed the week before!

Note: This story about my Dad is a conglomeration of many memories and may not be strictly true. What IS strictly true is that the last two increases in the first-class postage rates are a DIRECT result of revenue shortfalls the US Postal Service suffered because of mail my Dad swore he sent the week before but really hasn't gotten around to yet!

As far as I know, all this procrastination started with my folks. After all, neither one of them has ever told me a story about THEIR parents being procrastinators. But then again, they may simply have not gotten around to telling me those stories yet.

Um. Where was I? Let me go back and look, hold on...

Oh yeah! Procrastination - why does one do it?

Well, has this to say about procrastination:

"Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now." You can even look at the amusing picture that goes with this pearl of wisdom by clicking HERE.

I dunno. I think we procrastinate because we're scared. Scared to fail, scared to succeed, scared to find out if we'll fail or succeed, whatever. Just scared. In all honesty, I have no idea why I procrastinate, or why you may procrastinate or why anyone would procrastinate. It's not even an aversion to hard work. When I get going on something, I'll work my tail off. It's the "getting going" that has me stumped sometimes.

So how does this relate to this blog? Well, I've been putting off writing here for over a month! It's not that I have nothing to say, I'm just stuck for that little spark that gets me started.

But now, 700-odd words later, I'm finally started! So let me end this bit of drivel and get on to something else. After all, I just got an idea for what to write next and I don't have the patience to wait until this article is properly finished before I start on that one! Finally, the opposite of procrastination!

If this seems to be an abrupt and dissatisfying ending to this post, allow me to direct you to my very first post
HERE. File this one under "Random Thoughts".

-Sage Words