Procrastination or Resistance? In praise of a broken iron…
Today I have a something to write that feels really important, if I write it well it could open doors for me and shape the years ahead. So here I am writing about procrastination instead! I thought perhaps if I observed just exactly what I’m feeling and why by putting it into words on a page in front of me that I would be able to counter these thoughts with rational responses and get on with the job in hand.
I began by finding a clothing brochure upon my laptop which I had been looking at yesterday - I usually stick them straight into the recycling bin (sorry all you product photographers and brochure designers out there) but I’ve been looking for a new summer weight cardigan and happened upon one here. So I thought I’d take action and tick that job off my list before beginning anything so that thoughts of summer days in long linen cardigans were far from my mind.
Then I decided that since we’re away for the weekend I really and truly should try and get the ironing done; I am an anachronism and still iron my husband’s shirts each week, he stays away during the week but doesn’t always have easy access to an iron in a guesthouse and works looooong hours so it feels like something nice I can do for him in return for his many kindnesses and endless patience to me. But lo and behold the iron is not working! I’ve rewired the plug but beyond that I haven’t really got any further ideas. Perhaps it’s an omen……!
So sitting back at my desk I have determinedly closed down my mail application, unread mails are my nemesis, offering me the option of a satisfying swift swipe to tidy up my inbox or, more distractingly, the allure of an article that sounds fascinating and sure to be insightful and enriching. I don’t allow any notifications on social media apps, nor am I brilliantly disciplined at sticking to specific times in the day when I use them, but on the rare occasion that I have turned on that little red numeric signal I have found myself unable to resist peeking alarmingly often.
I’m thirsty, and that’s ok as I have a glass of water upon my desk but picking it up I notice that my thumb nail really needs filing as a result a few hours in the garden yesterday. Usually I have a nail file in the box of pens etc that I keep by my side, but a quick rummage through reveals nothing further than the thought that I really should go through the box and tidy it up - for some reason I can see three erasers in there and I know not why. But thinking of gardening reminds me that my seedlings will have been sitting in the direct sun this morning and will need a drink and perhaps a little gentle verbal encouragement. Actually, I stepped out to check on them last night and was lovingly speaking to them when I realised that my neighbour’s (adult) son was just the other side of the fence having a smoke so quickly scuttled back into the kitchen much to the girls’ hilarity.
This sense of putting off a task which I genuinely want to succeed at not only has my mind jumping around like an enthusiastic toddler in a soft play centre, but I feel physically twitchy too. Finding focus is hard and even my gaze is distracted repeatedly by the various books and files surrounding me. And then a quick look out of the window, for it is sunny and it’s important to stop a while and appreciate these small moments in which all I can hear is the birds singing. The sun’s rays are lighting up the emerging leaves on the silver birch in next door’s garden, they’re so bright they’re almost neon.
But all this procrastination, or resistance to the task at hand, is simply my brain’s way of protecting me from the fear that whatever words I choose will not be good enough to convey adequately what I want to say. No doubt many of you will also have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and I find myself bringing to mind the passage in which she shares how she speaks to Fear. Acknowledging its presence, welcoming it even, but firmly explaining that while it will be part of the journey she’s making it will most definitely not be behind the wheel.
So, I’m trying to acknowledge that this flighty, anxious feeling of avoidance is in fact me recognising that this is important to me, that it matters because I believe it could be the next step on the path of my life. I am reassuring myself that regret is much harder to live with than failure and I’m finishing this here. Thank goodness the iron is broken!