is the new Carpe Diem
By Eric Wagner
Friday, August 16, 2002
don't want to be a total loser, you must "seize the day,"
right? But, alack, you have been procrastinating. You haven't begun
your new diet, an important project remains unfinished on your desk,
and your lengthy toenails have turned into lethal weapons. You just
know you're doomed never to complete anything, and, if you do, there
will always be something else you should be doing instead.
But perhaps there is
an alternative to our society's Protestant go-go-go, "sleep is for
wusses" work ethic, a more relaxed, more intuitive one.
"Unfinished is a state
of grace," mused Yoko
Ono. Was she on to something? You decide.
A friend of mine, who
shall remain nameless, told me that every night he would put, next
to his keys, a check he had written to purchase shares in the dot-com
he worked for; however, he kept forgetting
to bring the check with him when he left home. Forgetting this one
thing continued for weeks. My friend, who was somewhat notorious
for never forgetting anything, couldn't figure out why he kept "forgetting"
the check. The only resolution, in his mind, was that purchasing
the shares was a bad move. He was subsequently proven right. The
suckers who did purchase the stock were out of luck, perhaps because
they missed the blessing of procrastination.
Avoidance can be a virtue.
There are numerous stories of people not getting on planes or trains,
or walking down certain streets or into certain places and consequently
missing disaster. Of course, there is probably an equal number of stories of people who did
get on planes or trains and happened, serendipitously, to meet the
loves of their lives, or walked into stores to buy winning lottery
tickets. Nevertheless, the power of not doing something should
never be underestimated.
In line with my friend's
fortunate dilatory actions, I am certain that legions of people
who purchased shares of Enron, WorldCom, Quest, et al, wish they
had committed the sin of procrastination. (My own ill-fated purchase
of Webvan stock could have used a bit more caveat emptor
than carpe diem, alas.)
But this is yesterday's
snow. What about the future? Behold my crystal ball.
Damn! I just dropped
it on my foot! Big balls of crystalline glass can be dangerous.
I should have left fortune-telling exactly where it always is: in
I am not, however, above
making some extrapolations. Here is a list of things to postpone,
or just never get around to doing:
- Reorganize closets
or cabinets full of tchotchkes. (Donate them instead.)
- Crack open the Martha
Stewart cookbook. (Her books are already way overcooked.)
- Fix a friend's or
family member's computer. (Really, don't do this!)
- Start on the novel
you've always wanted to write. (It'll suck anyway, and, even if
it doesn't, it's impossible to get published, so don't waste your
- Keep up with politics.
(The news is always very, very bad.)
- Talk to your parents.
(Fulfilling family obligations never made anyone feel good.)
- Join a gym. (Gym fees
are a tax on the lazy.)
- Look for work. (How
does a vacation sound?)
- Listen to me. (What
do I know?)
Well, what are you waiting
for? Carpe diem!
© 2002 Eric Wagner All rights reserved.