The Great Procrastinator

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

  I returned and saw under the sun that—
  The race is not to the swift,
  Nor the battle to the strong,
  Nor bread to the wise,
  Nor riches to men of understanding,
  Nor favor to men of skill;
  But time and chance happen to them all.
  For man also does not know his time:
  Like fish taken in a cruel net,
  Like birds caught in a snare,
  So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
  When it falls suddenly upon them.

—Ecclesiastes 9:10-12

When Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do,” he was acknowledging that there is always work to be done. We should challenge ourselves to grab hold of the ordinary responsibilities of each day and simply make sure they get done. It’s easy for most of us to live in a perpetual state of procrastination consisting of “maybe tomorrow” or “someday” we’ll get around to doing the things we need to do. I am a terrible procrastinator. The problem with being a procrastinator is that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow; we only have today. We can’t go back and relive yesterday and correct our mistakes. We should take each day in-hand and “do it with your might,” rather than waste hours dreaming about what we would rather be doing. As the Nike ads used to say, “Just Do It!” Tomorrow may never come, though we will hope it will.

Not only are we to do whatever lies close at hand, but we are to do it with enthusiasm. I know that is sometimes very hard to do. Sometimes, we reluctantly do something, but we need to try to get over that reluctance. If we consider that Earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 50 million years, we can put just how short of a time we will be on this earth into perspective. While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800s. While we’ve accomplished much in that short time, it also shows our responsibility as caretakers for the only planet we live on right now. That means humans have only been on this Earth for .0044 percent of the time of Earth’s existence, and civilizations make up a mere 3 percent of that time (that’s .0132 percent of the history of the Earth.) Considering that the average human lives 72.6 years, we are here for a very short time. We need to make the most of the time we are here. While some of us will live longer than 72.6 years, others will not make it to 72.6 years.

Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going,” he underscores the fact that the chances of facing mortality are an overwhelming 100 percent. None of us are immortal. Even though none of us want to hear that we are going to the grave, it is a fact we all need to face. Pretending it isn’t true or simply ignore it, won’t keep it from happening. This life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one chance to do whatever we’re going to do here on planet earth. Our moment in the sun will be over sooner than most of us care to admit. The next time we procrastinate doing something, we need to remember, “We are not promised tomorrow.” I am often easily distracted, but sometimes we just need to concentrate on the task at hand and get it done.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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