Saturday, July 9, 2022

Ode to Procrastination

One of the great perks about being a retired teacher? No more report cards! One of those necessary burdens that come with the job and in the end, always worthwhile the way our school does them. A chance to spend some time in the classroom keenly observing each student and noticing how they’re actually doing beyond “fine— doesn’t disrupt the class.” And thus, know what areas deserve some help and guidance, a chance for you to figure out how to help them and for them to figure out what kind of efforts they need to make to improve. 


But even at its best, no teacher loves the task of sitting down and having to call up each student in their mind and find the words that are actually useful, true and honest. Which means, its’ a perfect time to procrastinate! 


Though retired, I still have some business to attend to that is nowhere near as fun as playing piano, walking in the park, flying a kite with my grandkids. Those e-mails that must be answered but you’d rather not at the moment, that bookkeeping that keeps getting further and further behind, an entire house filled with decades of accumulated things that calls to you (alongside your wife) to sort through them and decide what to keep and what to toss. No end to the things available for our tendency to procrastinate. (FYI, its Latin root combines “pro” meaning forward with “crastinus” meaning tomorrow. Thus, moving it to the back of the list to (theoretically) bring it forward tomorrow). 


With several such deferred e-mails awaiting me, what better way to procrastinate than share this poem I wrote years back about— you guessed it: procrastination. I hope you read it now.



                                     © 2012 Doug Goodkin


A topic that holds for me great fascination

Is the art and the practice of procrastination.

Though we long to be happy, it’s a sure path to sorrow

If we don’t do today and put off for tomorrow.


We check in to Facebook or watch a Blue Ray

To avoid the one thing that we should do today.

We write a love poem to that Miss that we kissed

Put doing this thing far down the list.


We squiggle and squirm, makes all kinds of excuses

Go weed the garden or go check the fuses.

Keep saying “Not now” or “tonight” or “well, soon,”

Maybe at 10 or 11 or noon.


Now we’re too hungry and now we’re too tired

Now we’re not focused and now we’re too wired.

Right after this or right before that.

Or just after the trip to the vet with the cat.


The hours are ticking, the deadline draws near.

What started in fun is ending in fear.

We strap ourselves down, settle down to the task.

“How is it going? “ Please, just don’t ask!


When it finally is done, we feel a big stone

Lifted off of our shoulders and go check our phone.

The library says to return what we borrowed.

And we think to ourselves, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” 

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