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Pass the mint julep please: practical wisdom I’ve appreciated

November 8th, 2005 · 4 Comments

I’ve appreciated the practical wisdom in Elizabeth’ Grigg’s posts including how to get over something. Admitting heartbrokenness is hard. I think it’s easier to try to fix the problem. Or at least try to feel as if the problem has been fixed. Throw something at it. Yet when we are heartbroken, we are also human.

In another post she tackled the mythical evil of procrastination.

Our actions are proportional to what we accomplish. As a result, we don’t procrastinate. We just lament that we don’t have enough sleep, or time, or effective painkillers and high quality coffee to make it through the day to our own expectations. The accusation of procrastination – with all its collegiate baggage – is off the mark for those of us who are in what I would call the critical years. Everything counts in large amounts, as they say. And procrastination is not just banished from our lives as if forcibly ejected, but unconsidered.

She argues that during the “critical years” we are merely trading one need for another, not procrastinating. For example, I feel I am constantly choosing between sleeping and accomplishing other tasks. I don’t feel I have leisure time to spend procrastinating.

Yet I do procrastinate. I do favor certain tasks over others. And sometimes, at night, I will choose sleep over finishing a project I don’t like. Or I’ll choose to pay the bills rather than send out an email that requires delicate wording.

Elisabeth’s ending resonated with me:

Rather than getting over our procrastination, I would like to understand how to sit on a porch for years at a time, listen to the phasing bzzzt sound of your and your neighbor’s bug zappers, drink mint juleps, and watch the kids grow up in the most passive sense imaginable.

Yes, I too want to watch the kids grow up in the delicious way one savors a summer evening on the porch. It is difficult to let go of goals. Each day I am teaching myself to pry my fingers off of my expectations and to hold onto the moment, elusive and ephemeral, the way one would hold a butterfly in the hand. Perhaps one could say I am procrastinating, postponing what I should be doing. Sure, I’m making a list of what I want to do when I’m fifty, when this stage of life is long past. But for now, let me sit on the porch. Pass the mint juleps, please.

I also cherished this piece by Koan Bremner titled On asking for, and receiving, and giving…help.

Asking for help – learning to accept it with good grace when it is offered – giving help freely when the opportunity arises.

I recommend it.

Like Koan, asking for help is one of the hardest things for me to do. Perhaps because I was the oldest child who had to run a household at times by herself from a young age. Perhaps because I don’t like to admit when I didn’t fit my own expectations and make the goals I had planned to make. Perhaps because I get caught up thinking others will think less of me if I ask for help.

Yet those people who ask me for help are some of the ones I admire most. It is true, as Koan says, that if we learn to ask for help, to give and receive help with grace, is crucial to our survival, physical, emotional, spiritual. We were not meant to live alone.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Koan Bremner // Nov 8, 2005 at 10:16 pm

    This is a wonderful post, Julie – I’m not saying that because you mentioned my post – but because you sum up, in your last sentence, so much that I have been realising recently – “We were not meant to live alone.”

    I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to hearing you speak, at SXSW Interactive – because I’ve now been confirmed as a speaker, I know I can justify attending – hard to be a speaker if I don’t attend, after all! 🙂

  • 2 hadashi // Nov 9, 2005 at 6:38 am

    it’s amazing to me how seamless the transition from “when are you guys getting married/why aren’t you married yet?” to “are you having kids? when?” has been now that we are, indeed, married. SIGH.

    i would very much like to ask you why you miss your brother — because i have a feeling the answer will transcend the obvious reasons.

    (posted on behalf of hadashi by Julie due to technical problems)

  • 3 Elizabeth Grigg // Nov 11, 2005 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Julie, I completely echo Koan’s comment, except of course without the glamorous speaking engagements and travel thrown in. Tee hee.

    But I have to take issue with something. Procrastination is not favoring one task over another. That’s prioritization, right? And sleep, that should be non-negotiable, so not even on the prioritization table, right?

    I think many people use the word as a cover-up for missed expectations. I still miss expectations all the time, but it’s due to the expectations being unreasonable, not because I can’t prioritize, or because I can’t stop watching TV. So I have stopped using the word in the same way, perhaps that’s the difference.

  • 4 Julie // Nov 16, 2005 at 2:04 am

    oops – I think I misposted this comment from hadashi – it should be on another post instead…

    Thanks, Koan and Beth.

    I don’t know. It sure feels like I’ve been procrastinating on responding to these comments. Or does it? After all it is 2 am…;-)

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