AN ADAGE A DAY◽ HOME
There’s an old adage, or idiom, I find most fitting for a New Year. It’s one we all need to hear and do some time or another. It’s one I have to tell myself very often and I don’t always like it. This adage is, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I find it funny I never have any problems doing what I like to do but those things I prefer not to do, or maybe it’s something someone else wants me to do, I put off. I call it “stalling.” Oh, I’ll get it done but it may be at the last minute, just in the nick of time, but definitely, always, with a smile. This is called procrastination.
Are you a procrastinator?
I bet I could go out on a limb and say all of us procrastinate about something, sometime. Just so we don’t feel like the only one, did you know, Mozart, who wrote such beautiful operas, composed his famous Don Giovanni the night before it was to premiere? The story says the ink had not even fully dried on the sheets of music. There wasn’t even time for rehearsal. And another, Leonardo Da Vinci, took 16 years to complete the painting of his Mona Lisa.
Although this idiom is attributed to Benjamin Franklin first saying it, a rendition of it appears in a poem written by Hesoid, an ancient Greek poet, to his brother, Persus, an avid procrastinator, around 700 BC. He wrote, “Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work: industry makes work go well, but a man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.”
And we also read in Proverbs 6: 9-10, “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”
There are more famous procrastinators but I want to plead my case for the non-procrastinators, those of us that lean on never putting off until tomorrow what we can do today. After all, getting ourselves in gear for doing those things we put off is nothing more than a habit we need to start. Once we start, it becomes routine, and then it becomes as easy as pie because we don’t worry and think about doing it. I learned this the hard way.
All of my adult life until I was pregnant with my first child, I would procrastinate about making my bed. My mother always made our beds and when my brother and I were old enough she taught us how. I never knew why but I knew it was what I should do. Then, adulthood set in and the first thing I didn’t do was make my bed. I would procrastinate about it. I’d think, “I’ll do it later.” But later never came. Then when I was about six months pregnant with my first child, I was in a maternity clothing shop and I overheard a customer and saleslady talking about making their beds. Go figure why I heard this?
They were discussing all the benefits of a better night‘s sleep from clean crisp sheets that had been made all day and tucked away from the dust in the air. The customer told the saleslady it was the very first thing she did every morning as she got out of her bed. She said that it would then be done. How simple, I thought, but I’m six months pregnant. I turned to look at her and she was due any day, so much more pregnant than me! On my way home I thought, “If she can do it, I can do it!” That procrastination became a habit, a part of my morning routine, something I did every day, and still do to this day, not putting it off until tomorrow.
What do you procrastinate about? What do you put off until tomorrow that you can do today? Just as Arnold Schwarzenegger must not procrastinate, I will not, in this New Year. At 72 years old, he made another Terminator movie, Terminator 6 (Dark Fate). That’s a lot of physical action for a 72-year old, even with a stunt man, something we all can learn from. He always did say, “I’ll be back.”
So I’ll get back to not procrastinating whatever it is and stay with it every day. I hope you’ll join me in this resolution and “Just do it!”
Again, Happy 2020!