Procrastination

Weekend Meditation

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What I am avoiding: Washing the kitchen floor, organizing cupboards, sorting through the large collection of empty glass jars that have gathered in the cupboard below my sink. Also, starting a good-for-you dinner, which involves peeling a lot of vegetables and other time consuming tasks, meaning that it should have been started an hour ago if I'm really serious about eating dinner at a reasonable hour. Oh, and writing this post.


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How I'm avoiding it: The internets, of course, where I discovered this poster and this video, just to stay with our food-theme. Making a cup of tea, having a snack. Doing the dishes! (Strange form of procrastination, I know, but the small task of getting the dishes done is actually a sneaky way of convincing myself that I'm not a total slacker.) Reading this book, taking the above picture. A nap, of course. And a walk in the neighborhood where I stopped to watch the new ice-cream place being constructed and unexpectedly met a friend while standing on line for coffee.

How it all worked out: Well, I read an interesting book and found a fun poster! And this post seems to be almost done. But also I learned to be careful about the idea of setting up tasks and goals as the ultimate organizer of my life. I know that this is considered the grown-up thing to do, and in some ways it is. But I've learned that it can be a trap, too, and a sneaky way to insulate myself from my life, which is a lot more unpredictable and tied to wildness than I think. What happens when I'm not controlling my experience with my lists and accomplishments? What happens when I just let the afternoon open up and unfold around me?

The good-for-you dinner didn't get made today but it will probably get made tomorrow and the jars will eventually find their matching lids and really, the kitchen floor can go another week. Instead, I meandered through a whole array of sights and sensations and discovered the sweet freedom of an unplanned afternoon spent following my nose. I saw an old friend, which did my heart good. I discovered what trees are in bloom one block over and smelled the wonderful and strangely rural smell of compost and flowering sweet pea at the urban farm down the hill. I learned a little more about my camera and got lost in a book for an hour. The motive may have been procrastination but the day still offered merit and the unpredictable pleasures of accomplishing things not on your list.

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I hope you enjoyed this encore Weekend Meditation, originally posted in April, 2011. I will be posting these vintage posts every Sunday (with the occasional new post, if I can manage!) for the next several months while I focus on writing my first book.

PS: In revisiting this post nearly three years later, I was a little surprised to discover that things haven't changed much. My kitchen floor, the clutch of mismatched jars and lids lurking beneath my sink, tonight's dinner, and yes, even the updating of this post are all nagging me pretty much in the same way they did when I first wrote this. Which, when I think about it, is not so much of a surprise after all.

(Image credits: Dana Velden)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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