I’ve told three people; it’s official; I’m avoiding my assignment for my summer class.
Not by any clear method of procrastination. That would have had the mercy of being straightforward, and I could have straightforwardly sat myself down and told myself, “Enough already.”
My conclusion’s based on accumulation–I’ve accumulated enough postponements to squint at the pile and call it a trend. As in, accumulated several “Today I will sketch an outline. Oh dear, there’s not enough time to begin. Another day, then.” Once, whatever. Twice might (might!) be coincidence. I’ve more than a handful.
But worse, or maybe better?, than that–I acquired my own parable just now. I was reading Jeremiah chapter 19, so I was even primed, like a pump -!
Thus, my personal parable of attention and interruption.
See, I hate being interrupted when I’m focusing. Which is too common a phrase to convey how my shoulders hunch up by my ears and the skin on my back crawls when I think I’m going to be interrupted. Study, writing…for both and other things I want a substantial block of time. I want no comments, no conversation. No dings from devices. At least an hour! Well, maybe a half-hour, depending on whether I know I can finish. (Notice the word know.)
Most times I sense an interruption-risk, I won’t even start. There’s plenty of Things To Be Done in this world, so I’m not even idle! (Lifelong Presbyterian female person? Means idleness is Just Not Done.)
So. Back to this tale, and my study. I take breathers from Jeremiah and his smashed jug by glancing out the front windows: a static tableau (good!) of 4′ high rosemary, live oaks, a blue low-slung car… . Not static! That’s E’s car, and E is a sparkle of conversation even when she’s quiet. She’ll be coming up the walk, ringing the doorbell, and and…I should just stop now and get the interruption going.
I even pause. But there’s no movement, no doorbell, no knock. And I’m behind on my classwork, with dinner coming indeterminately soon. I bind my attention back to Jeremiah. And then the Lamentations. And Ezekiel! When I at last see her standing at the windows.
Time enough within the time. “In a minute there is time…”*
Which I have known in some ways. But now need to practice in others.
PS: You could say that’s where I’ve been for two days, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Or you could say that even when you think I have a habit, I still don’t…and you wouldn’t be wrong there, either.
*’Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,’ T. S. Eliot