Procrastinate

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I started writing this almost a week ago… 🙂

Very straightforward for Latin, I have to say, it actually means to defer. It is more specific than the current usage as it actually contains reference to “tomorrow” but otherwise perfectly understandable, if annoying.

I am not very fond of procrastination, even though I do it so well Others are even less enamoured of procrastination and have outstandingly explicit and eloquent things to say about it.

But this is an apology so I looked at what good can procrastination do. I am talking only of procrastination, not of time management difficulties. Those are not choices, procrastination is.

Let me make it clear: it is not a character flaw, it is not a difficulty, it is not an accident. It is a choice, and as such it is a consequence of a process that involves a lot of the individual, some of the system and most of the environment in which it happens.

Most people that I know of (including myself) do not procrastinate out of malice. It may be a passive (or is that passive-aggressive?) protest against circumstances we do not agree with. It may be a sign that more rest is in order so we can make better decisions. It may also be too difficult in which case it becomes again a passive way of saying it

What it can help with is timing. It’s a delaying technique but it may also be triggered by waiting for another piece of information needed to complete our knowledge. Or waiting for just the right time to do something. Or the right space in which to say something difficult.

Sometimes I am so tired that anything past breathing is way, way too much. So I procrastinate.

I don’t like it. I don’t think anyone does. But saying (and I have heard them all!) that the above are “just an excuse” is the same as saying “I don’t care why, just do it my way/the accepted way/the right way” despite what (I believe) are valid reasons.

And that makes me more, not less likely to continue to procrastinate.

Vicious circle, much?

Lately I have procrastinated sadness, if such is even possible. But I can’t let it overwhelm me during the day. And sometimes even nights are out of bounds. So I defer it. There is romance reading, pop music listening, cartoon watching – light hearted fun that nonetheless allows another hour to pass.

I can expect that much of myself, indeed. For sadness will come, and will not be denied entry.

I might as well make the decision when to open the door.

Opposite

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Set against? Sounds quite divisive… and I have an issue with that! But there is a line between enemy and difference, and it’s that line that I wouldn’t mind travelling on. I am talking about people, you know, and more specifically about the line between the individual and the social creature. What are the sacrifices? How far should we go? Where do we stop? What do we expect from others?

It comes as no surprise that we live in the world of people, made by people for people’s purposes. Which people, from when and what price this world I will discuss shortly. Suffice it to say that making a living alone on a deserted island (Scotland, anybody? Or maybe the Pacific) is very rare and suits a very few of us. Most people live close to other people, in distance if not in spirit.

And chances are that if you live close to people sooner or later you will bump against certain rules, many of them of the negative sort (don’t…). Provided you don’t have certain health conditions, you are made aware of those rules since when you’re born. They shape your life, whether you will it or not, whether you respect them or not. They become part of you. So when you meet someone who doesn’t have precisely the same rules, you are made aware of difference.

Of course the above is too simplistic by orders of magnitude. The factors that influence our lives are many and complex, the relationship between them is complicated at the best of times. We give the rules different names and different powers and different weights.

But the individual questions remain the same. What is the price I will have to pay to be part of this social group? How much of who I am do I need to restrain, renounce or defend in order to belong? How do I make that choice and will I be satisfied with what is left? Is it worth it? Yes, I am aware that the social contract theory is not the be all and end all of the universe 🙂

Then you get into the self-esteem questions: am I not likeable the way I am? Am I good enough now or do I have to whittle a little bit more of myself?

The funny thing is many of us find our peers, our family by choice, based on our individuality. We create clubs, we have coffees and dinners together, we go for walks together. But remember that Clavell quote about the three different hearts of people? The obvious one (shown to the world), the closed one (shown to few), the secret one (shown to no one)…

I am running out of my self imposed space 🙂 I wanted to write about the weight the social factor has on the individual. I wanted to write that the secret face deserves to at least be acknowledged by the individual, not subsumed to the social. I wanted to write about inflexible systems that crush difference and try to fit the person in rather than become fit for the person. I wanted to write about rights (freedom?) and lifestyles.

I was watching “Moana” the other day. I am not the only one whose heart strings were tweaked by her breathless “we were voyagers!”

And I was thinking of the old adage, that if a human wants to live in a tree, we must make sure that the tree is fit for human habitation 🙂

Is there a difference? Or enmity?

Greed

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For once, this is not from Latin 🙂

But that is not the most interesting thing about this word. This would have to go the the unification by result of two opposites (plus and minus, yin and yang) into a characteristic that ranges from humorous to fatal. I shall attempt to explain.

Stepping into the realm of ethics, most especially applied ethics, you will meet terms like vice, virtue and in religious terms, sin. Greed is one of the sins or vices that has been considered fundamental, major, capital. In other words, really, really bad.

If Aristotelian etichs looks at virtues in the middle and vices (two of them for each virtue!) stemming from taking said virtue to extreme, then greed and miserliness don’t seem to be exact opposites. The opposite of a miser would be a spendthrift, not a greedy person. The opposite of greed would be probably someone who would not reach out for necessities (I understand that eating disorders were at one stage considered a part of a sin).

But when it is considered a sin it also includes miserliness. Which it, in some way, its opposite. Looking at it mathematically, greed is a plus, miserliness is a minus. A greedy person is always seeking addition to his already existent possessions (of anything, really, not just money), while a miser is going to extremes to avoid subtraction of his already existing posessions.

You can also have a person who is both greedy and a miser. The sin of greed unifies them anyway not by intent (which is different), but by result. The result is the unavailability of resources for anyone else. Whether you take them out as miser or grasping more of them as a greedy person, you are not making them available to others who might need them. That lack of generosity, charity and consideration for others is considered a sin, rather than the more neutral wealth.

Religiously speaking, in the end, greed is a sin of the self and, as such, linked with pride. Evolutionary speaking, it is not so clear cut… up to a point. Those who grasped more (food, hunting teritory, females, other resources) had a better chance of survival so at an individual level they would have been stronger and more likely to have strong progeny. But people did not evolve as solitary animals, on the contrary, so at a species level I believe the selfish genes select for co-operation and that leads to sharing of resources. Communities of people around the world, “civilized” or not, have careful, extensive and sometimes enforceable rules around the sharing of resources.

Greed was given as an explanation for people’s disregard for their environment once community took a backstep to industry, once there was a distance between the food you eat and the place where that food originates from, once  individual values were required and the social ones were “nice-to have”, once “team building” had to be taught in workplaces…

And if you read the paragraph above, you also see what can be done about it.

A way back?