Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Procrastination And Living With Blinders On

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's book The Laughing Jesus talks about 'living lucidly' in chapter ten. I equate this task with removing the blinders and getting up off our spiritual butts. It's very difficult to stay disciplined with the way ordinary life slips in, demanding our immediate attention. The authors had interesting things to say about procrastination concerning gnosis:
"Life is a game of awakening and the way we win is remarkably simple. We live or ordinary life, just as we have always done, but we choose to live consciously. We recognize that even the most seemingly trivial events are opportunities to enjoy the moment and love others. We embrace the stranger who serves us at the local shop with big love, because we no longer see them as just a cashier, we know they are also the mystery made manifest. And when we love others we may help them wake up and become more loving. In this way we can send out ripples of kindness wherever we go.

We wake up by approaching our everyday existence as an ongoing spiritual exercise. Not in some overly serious way, but like a game we enjoy playing. Yet it does also have a serious aspect. Life will naturally present us with the challenges we need to become more conscious, some of which can be hard to face, and the best way to avoid being pushed is to keep moving.

We tend to think that it is when we feel bad that we need to wake up and when we feel good everything is fine as it is. But actually it is often when we are enjoying life that we become most unconscious. When life is bad we are impelled to do something about it and we may take a step forward on our journey of awakening. But when we feel good it is tempting to settle into a comfortable unconsciousness. We need to pay attention to waking up all of the time, not just when we are pushed into it because we felt bad.

Once we understand that the game of life is about waking up and that what we really want is to love this moment, we will cease distracting ourselves with the relentless quest for transitory satisfaction, through accumulating material possessions, acquiring social status and attaining personal power. We will stop numbing the pain of separateness with TV and trivia. Instead we will give our precious attention to the process of awakening. We will stop seeing lucid living as an attractive idea and make it a reality. We will stop procrastinating and go for it."

As I write this my ten year old son is sitting out at the dining room table sobbing his little heart out because he procrastinated all day long on school work and now here it is only a few minutes before Daddy gets home and he swears he's going to be killed. It's always just before Daddy gets home that the kid looks at the clock and freaks out.

I've given him pep talks ten times a day. I've taken away all his toys, electronics privileges, had him write papers concerning procrastinating, and even had him write essays forcing him to give HIMSELF a pep talk to stop procrastinating; listing all the reasons it's not such a good idea and specifically what he loses by doing it. But we still haven't broken through that barrier in his mind.

As the two good authors say, "you have to want to wake up more than you want to stay asleep."

And as I've asked my youngest time and time again, "why are you stopping yourself?"

Children teach us patience in surprising ways. I look at him and at times think, 'why can't he do this?! It's easy! If he gets done then he gets free time. What's the issue? I got done with my school work in a reasonable amount of time when I was a kid. What's the big deal?'

But to him it is a big deal. So I get to watch him overcome this demon and in the process learn more about him and myself. Can I be patient enough to not scream at him every time I see him staring off into space or 'accidentally' dropping his eraser on the floor for the thousandth time? Can I be compassionate enough to let him learn from his mistakes? Can I be strict enough to enforce that no work will carry over to the next day and watch him sit, miserable, at the table until 11pm? It's no fun for me or my husband. We don't get anything out of it. This is a roadblock of our son's making and his life is his own journey. But our journeys sure do intersect an awful lot!! And that's where loving others with Big Love comes in handy. I can give John a big loud kiss on the cheek, hug him tightly, tell him that I love him with all my heart... but afterward I still have to nudge him toward the table to get his school work done.

1 comment:

Chadly said...

I have a problem with procrastination too. I'm *still* struggling to develop a consistent daily practice.