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Putting it off and diving in

By Pamela Noel

A column special to Plumas News

Since I am, at the moment, interested in completing things, I thought I would sit down and finish editing a book about my mother. It has been ten years in the writing. It is 98 degrees outside today, and it seems a rational pursuit, if only to stay cooler on this hot day.

I have been putting this off — procrastinating. Thinking that sometimes procrastination has a function in life, I usually relax about the fact that this project still remains on my “to do” list. Reviewing all the reasons why it would be good to put off finishing, I come up with the possibility that the manuscript might be better with more resting time, giving me perspective with which to look at this part of my mom’s life. I then start feeling that I am too distracted to write at home. (A nice remote writer’s shack would do nicely … or a seaside beach.) I then ask myself why am I even writing this story … and for whom am I writing it? When I truthfully answer this question the reason is me. I am the reason. It is the way I process events in my life. It is the way that I try to make sense out of some things that seem so senseless — in this case my mother’s last seven years having to live with dementia.

But when I really go inside to feel this sense of procrastination, I feel something else. Digging deeper I feel sadness. I feel grief. As long as I still have this unfinished manuscript I am still holding on to a part of her. She was such a quiet and caring presence in my life for so many years that it is difficult to pull that curtain down. Yes, I know she will always be with me in a certain way, but there is a letting go that has not yet happened for me.

So I put on some relaxing music. I look in the refrigerator for something to drink. I jot a quick e-mail to my buddy about getting through my procrastination. I call a friend. I make a fast trip to pick up a truckload of top soil. I start the dishwasher. I read a newsflash that comes across my screen about Yosemite closing down again due to Corona virus. I look out the window to see if anything needs to be noticed. I start writing about this. I AM DOING EVERYTHING to avoid actually getting started.

Some people are extremely disciplined about getting things done. Usually I count myself among them. But with this project, my will is a little shaky … actually quite a bit shaky. Knowing that this project is more complicated than “just checking something off my list” helps. I can engage a certain part of myself to confront a conflicting situation — in this case — wrapping up a chapter and saying goodbye. It helps too, to share with others, that part of me that is putting something off. I feel most of us have this tendency about something. Once we understand why we are doing this, it takes away one of the obstacles.

So now I am now in a frame of mind to begin. It’s still hot outside. My drink has been refilled three times. My binder of writing is on the table beside me. I have no more excuses. I am diving in.



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