Satish C. Bhatnagar : After all, what is this ‘procrastination’ that bugs everyone at one time or another? Is it a habit that one develops over the course of time? Certainly, it is not communicable – like, a disease contracted by conduction or induction. Are some people more prone to it than others? Does it become integral to all humans as soon as they develop a sense of some sequential order of things and actions? Is there any individual who has never put off a chore? If there is one such a person, then it is provable that that person has not done anything in life.
Well, for the last four weeks, I have been bitten by this bug of ‘procrastination’, or more appropriately hit by an avalanche called ‘procrastination’. Here is the genesis of this reflection. This year, the deadline for filing in the US income tax returns was April 15. For the last 50 years of our living in the US, I have always ended up filing in this return on the very last day. Lately, it has been taking me 5-6 hours to finish my return. At the end of it, I resolve to do it in January or February of the following year once all the tax documents are in place. Certain things, foods and even individuals are anathema to some people. It is a simple corollary of a belief in diversity. Let me declare that filing income tax return is not my cup of tea – to put it mildly.
Today, at 7:30 PM, late by three days, I did nevertheless file my tax return electronically. Let me state that my tax return is seldom complex, but rather simple, as I take ‘standard deductions’ – no itemization. Thanks to Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, I am getting a refund on my taxes this year. However, twenty-five years ago, I had concluded that the US is the only country in the world where a taxpayer gets the best value of his/her taxes – in terms of public services. Having my roots in India too, I know the corruption with public funds. Accountability of public funds is an index of a nation’s overall greatness.
Back to my tax returns: the reason of my not going to a professional tax to prepare my tax return is the same as I want to remain in charge of my health and wealth. Also, I like to take care of my front yard, backyard, the washing of my car, dishes, clothes, vacuuming, cleaning up of the garage, and my little room etc. Yes ‘like to do’ does not quickly translate into my actions – call it procrastination or prioritization! Naturally, my wife calls the maids to clean up the ‘house’ every 2-3 weeks. That is when I have to keep myself calm! I grew up in Bathinda (India) not seeing any domestic servants helping around my parents. There was a natural distribution of the house chores.
A few days ago, I read a very nice article on ‘procrastination’ in the March issue of the Toastmaster magazine. According to some psychological study, you have exactly five seconds to swing an idea into action before procrastination erases it. The article also noted that the genius, Michelangelo, in his lifetime, had left far more unfinished artworks (including the commissioned ones) than he had finished! That really has given a boost to my way of life, as if I needed it at my age of 80 Minus.
So many of my friends have wondered at my prodigious output of reflections and a stream of books (ten so far) in six different genres written over the last eight years. Whereas, I am procrastination personified! The bottom line is that the more you do (as observed by others), the more you are encouraged to do. Hence, there kicks in new priority or procrastination. Despite all the restlessness in my professional and literary life, I am at peace and feel anchored in my life – on a ‘cruise control’. In other words, I am beyond the reach of this beast of ‘procrastination’!
Satish C. Bhatnagar