Procrastinate

20170524_192929

I started writing this almost a week ago… ๐Ÿ™‚

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 โ€œtomorrowโ€ but otherwise perfectly understandable, if annoying.

I am not very fond of procrastination, even though I do it so well ๏Š 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 ๏Š

What it can help with is timing. Itโ€™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 โ€œjust an excuseโ€ is the same as saying โ€œI don’t care why, just do it my way/the accepted way/the right wayโ€ 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 โ€“ 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

20150118_153525

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 โ€œMoanaโ€ the other day. I am not the only one whose heart strings were tweaked by her breathless โ€œwe were voyagers!โ€

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Is there a difference? Or enmity?

School

dsc04459

In a time and place when philosophy and lectures were apparently leisurely (I am talking about the ancient Greeks, you know) there might not have been discussions about what is best for the children… then again, maybe there have been, knowing parents.

But I had (in the modern world) a discussion with a friend about education in general and schools in particular. I was enthusing about the Montessori method as usual, as that is, to my mind, the way I would have loved to be educated when I was the little one’s age.

My friend quite rightly pointed out that the little one is part of a very small group of people, selected at least three ways out of many: a parent who lives in the vicinity of, who can afford and who chooses to send the little one to such a place. Sounds privileged, doesn’t it? And given how Montessori actually started, that is beyond ironic!

Both my friend and I also know of children (way, way too many) for whom books are a rarity and life at home has infinitely bigger stresses than not being able to watch โ€œone more and no moreโ€ cartoon.

And we know well that by the time a child goes to school some things cannot be fixed, some things cannot be learnt and some things can never change. So school methods should really be late developments and the focus should be on the first three years. Which means that school begins at home (Philosophy? Lecture? Leisure?). And that’s when I trotted out that big fashionable statement that my friend arched his eyebrows at: it’s a systems fault โ€“ only I didn’t use the term fault ๐Ÿ™‚

I can’t help it, truly! There are very few things I see as not systems faults โ€“ professional bias, you could call it! The way I see it we are the only species on Earth who doesn’t know how to raise their young anymore. So we have to substitute cultural imperatives for natural ones… but cultural imperatives change a lot quicker than human nature. We are overcrowded so crying babies are discouraged (from apartments, planes, cafes). We work industrial hours, so we train babies to sleep. We praise independence so we raise isolated, lonely children. We lose contact with our families and communities so we raise children who do not know where they belong.

Then we treat the consequences (attachment issues, sleep and eating disorders, anxiety) while still demanding resilience, good behaviour, hard work and achievement. At school. Which is not set up for the above.

What to do though? These children will raise children of their own one day โ€“ and choosing our rest homes, too ๐Ÿ™‚ What will they teach their children?

Educating future parents helps. Child care and human development should be in high school curriculum, alongside sex, relationship and civic education. But that is a band aid. If this is, indeed, a systems fault, it is our lifestyles that need changing. The feedback loop doesn’t sit still just because โ€œwe’ve always done it that wayโ€…

Feedback

20160306_172212

This is a new word, even though proverbs have captured the essence long before the last century. It’s the change that follows consequences. Learning, in other words.

Now of course this all depends on the perception of the consequence. Feedback is very much specific, but it cannot be objective. Take autoimmune disease (I have one so I am learning to deal with it) โ€“ the feedback is skewed so my body learns to very efficiently attack itself. Which incidentally leads me to the notion of the dependence I now have on a system that is by no means ideal even when it has the best intentions โ€“ the health system. I am no longer free to survive by my own means in an apocalyptic, dystopian future. Have you ever had that fantasy? The world has been turned upside down by a certain event (be it natural, man made or alien induced) and we ride into the sunset, free and wild in a strange machine that was made from scraps found around us in the rubble. Except if you have some disease that requires regular medication, in which case you are pretty much stuck, the freedom imagined turned inevitably into scrounging up for ever decreasing, ever worse expired medicine… until you can’t find any. It is a bitter irony that this type of fantasy leaves you grateful for that health system we love to hate. For this way you can lead a life that, if not free and wild, it is at the very least tolerable… and really, it just makes me specifically even more determined to think of ways to improve the health system, to donate more to meaningful research, to find ways to fund the research that actually counts for me. One should never underestimate the power of self-interest ๐Ÿ™‚

And that is the feedback from only one system, isn’t it? But the body is made up of many and they interact, so the feedback runs on that many loops and the learning happens in weird and occasionally unpleasant ways. Because the body itself has overlaps and multiple controls, all of which I guess serve to limit any damage, so that the body can heal pieces rather than just dropping off dead , which is not sustainable, really ๐Ÿ™‚

And limiting the damage, then healing cannot happen without feedback. Such a tiny, repetitive thing, such an important part of the whole system!

Can we override feedback? Well, yes, of course ๐Ÿ™‚ We keep digging when in the hole, we keep wishing for different results from the same actions. And it seems so quaint to resist temptation, so easy to take things for granted, to believe in our own imaginary immortality… or to go to the other extreme and get paralyzed by the uncertainty of it all. Fragile or bullet-proof? Which are we and when and how and why? I have been teaching the little one the value of proper explanations โ€“ she loves the game ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t worry, I don’t have the answers to the questions above, but if I ever learnt something during the years is that they still need to be asked, so that we do not turn silly-smug as well as fantastically surrealistic!

Did I digress or was this all just learning about change and consequences?