Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.

~ Pablo Picasso ~

Procrastination claws at progress, ripping productivity into useless ribbons of wasted time that cannot be sewn or glued or nailed together again. Every delay I allow myself is a wedge that can force me, later, into panic and speedy mediocrity. Or worse. I know this. So why do I sometimes avoid getting about the business at hand? Lethargy. Anticipation of unpleasantness. Sloth. Confusion. Misunderstanding. Inadequate preparation. Lack of knowledge. The reasons for putting things off are as numerous as the things we delay doing. And as unpleasant as are the consequences of procrastination, inaction is the subject of ostensibly cute humor. “I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do – the day after,” said Oscar Wilde.  And Ellen DeGeneres is quoted as saying  “Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.” Neither statement is funny; both simply take advantage of the ease with which we mock diligence, as if productive intensity were a character flaw. 

A sad but interesting byproduct of procrastination is the fact that delaying the unpleasant or putting off the unattractive or prolonging the inevitable does the same for what comes after. The benefits of having accomplished a task or completed an undesirable engagement are put off by delay. Negative anticipation tramples access to its positive partner.

Procrastination is on my mind this morning because I procrastinated filing for an extension on my income taxes this year until almost the last possible minute. And I have put off completing them since I filed the extension. I have yet to complete and file my return; after filing the extension, it seemed I had so much time left to do it. But no more. The deadline is fast approaching; just a month and a half left. I have yet to find (or obtain) all the 1099s and other forms necessary to file. I have to compile all the possible exemptions. I have to calculate all manner of other stuff that will take time. All of this in the midst of merging two households into one and exploring the possibility of an enormous change in my life and lifestyle. Deferring a known obligation is tantamount to pouring salt on a wound; and adding enormous stress to an already stressful period of time.

I’ve set aside two calendar days next week to address the stress caused by my taxation procrastination. And, I set aside time next week to make an appointment with a professional tax preparer to go over my tax work with me to verify my work and catch errors. Once all of this is done and my taxes are filed, I will begin preparing for next year’s tax filing. Next year, by God, I will not do this to myself again. I hope I have learned my lesson. I know the task is not particularly hard, provided one keeps good records along the way and keeps to a reasonable schedule. Failing to do so (as I have done this year) is a bit like swallowing a mouthful of treble fishhooks; the unpleasantness is more than a little painful.


I once thought I was completely alone and misunderstood. That no one but me could see or feel or think what was inside my head. But then, when the only person who ever really knew me was gone, I discovered I had never known myself. And now, I never will.


The results of my DNA assessments should be ready for me within three weeks. I do not have high expectations that I will be surprised, but I look forward to getting the results, nonetheless. It would be nice to find that I come from Scandinavian royalty, for example, and to learn that I am a long-lost heir to a considerable fortune, including massive land-holdings throughout Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. The near-certainty that my ancestry is almost exclusively English makes the likelihood of my wished-for royal Scandinavian background virtually impossible. But hope springs eternal. Time will tell. It always does.


I try to use humor to bring myself out of the doldrums, only to find that the doldrums are where I belong. Humor is nothing but a shattered crutch in such circumstances. As generous as are others’ efforts to lift my spirits, they are destined to fail and, in fact, change my mood from dark to dangerous. People who try to help can find themselves in the crosshairs of my anger. I should just lock myself in a room until he mood passes. That’s the safest place for me and for those in my sphere. I recognize this only before or after my mood sinks; never in the midst of it.


Sleep eluded me for much of last night. I tossed and turned as I tried to get comfortable and as I tried to breathe, only to find I could barely get enough oxygen in my lungs to survive until the next breath. I must find the time to see an ENT doctor or an acupuncturist or someone else who can clear my sinuses and stop my wheezing.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Delays

  1. I’m not so sure about that, Mick. Safety is an imaginary shield against real dangers; I dabble in real shields against imaginary dangers. 😉

  2. Mick says:

    At the very least it seems you are safe from the effects of “pre-crastination”

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