Ah procrastination, the guilty pleasure of the masses.
When considered seriously, most would lament it as “the thief of time” (Charles Dickens, David Copperfield) and reflectively agree with Abraham Lincoln, that
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
We’ve all been there – the proverbial crossroads of responsible time management.
The solid acknowledgement of a task required, that sits in your stomach like a raw potato… and the exhilaration – both painful and joyous, of turning away and doing something, anything, else. How much better that other something is, purely because of how naughty you are for doing it, instead of that other-thing-that-is-hanging-over-your-head. Cleaning your room is never so satisfying or pleasurable as when you have a 2000 word essay on Health Promotion due in 48 hours….
My family are particularly adept at procrastinating. It is a skill that was faithfully modelled to us by our parents, particularly our mum. No one can put off marking year 12 English practice exams like that woman. She truly is a marvel, and like the literary master Mark Twain, holds unswervingly to the adage
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
When packing a houseful of belongings into boxes, there are a plethora of distractions laying in wait to…. well, distract you. Dresses that must be to be tried on before one can verify their opp-shop status. Birthday cards that have been up since March, and probably should be thrown out, but each one needs to be read in case the message is special and you want to keep it forever. A thousand sentimental nick-nacks, brimming with nostalgia, that beg you to ponder how each one came to be yours… before you box it.
And then there’s the newspapers!
How the heck are you supposed to wrap your valuables efficiently when everything printed on the wrapping paper is so damn INTERESTING?
For example: I tried wrapping some ornaments with pages of Sunday Life. The following was one of the articles featured on the cover.
“Urgh!” thought I, “More vacuous bullshit proclaiming the glories of Living Large. I already have enough First World Problems without some stupid rag making me feel inadequate for not splurging enough, thankyou very much.”
Those pages would surely be easy to tear out and wrap up without reading, right?
Of course not.
Curiosity got the better of me. And it turned out to be a very thought provoking read.
Hedonism is defined by Oxford Dictionary as
“the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence.”
In my mind, “hedonism” has always carried connotations of darkness and debauchery. The kind of cruel filth sought after by the Libertines like Marquis du Sard: a breed of pleasure so twisted and self-serving that it runs right through the spectrum of what is good, and comes out the other side as obsessive delight in the suffering of others.
However, the article took quite a different approach, asking “Can the need to indulge, to pursue pleasure, be, from time to time, healthy – and indeed necessary?”
Now before you get all morally outraged (!) the pleasures mentioned in the article were far from Sunday arvo sadism. Rather, the individuals interviewed listed “hedonistic” pleasures such as long lunches with friends, festivals, dancing all night, sleep-ins and sunshine. Indeed one 44-year-old Sydney banker even “defines himself as an ethical hedonist and reckons hedonism can be healthy.”
Banker man continues “This weekend, I plan to read a book from cover to cover. For me that sounds just like heaven and it’s got nothing to do with spending heaps of money”. Another hedonist states his “ultimate indulgence” is his ocean swim each morning. Yet another finds joyful release in live music, which “provides the necessary exuberant counterbalance to our repetitive working lives. It gives us the burst of energy we need to go on. Without it, we are robots.”
(NB. Please note that all quoted text is taken from Brigid Delaney’s article “Days of Decadence”, published July 2012, Sunday Life/The Age)
Now, I don’t know if I’d classify myself as a neo-hedonist, but I do see a lot of value in appreciating with gratefulness the many pleasures that this life has to offer us.
Of course life isn’t always tea and crumpets, but I believe this earth was created for us to enjoy, and it’s in delighting in the good things that we value its Creator.
So, what pleasures bring exuberance to your life?
The article suggests (“how to be a hedonist”): skinny dipping, chucking a sickie, and going device-free (phone and internet) for a weekend.
I concur. I’d also like to add: fried haloumi, beach camping, and being read to sleep by someone who loves you.
And of course, procrastination!