“My mind reels in overindulgent fantasies as I try to cement this essay together. Mental blocks pervade it and it becomes a struggle. I don’t know why, but the knowledge doesn’t flow. To be good it must flow, but there are dams impeding the stream that must come naturally. I begin to wonder how I can ever get this done when something inside me seeks to destroy my concentration.”
Holy crap, I thought, as I stared at the yellowed page. Holy crap. This sounds uncannily like myself. Typed some 40ish years ago, it was from a prologue for an essay that my Dad wrote in college.
At the end, there was an afterthoughts section, where more phrases struck me.
“This assignment was very painful for me for some inexplicable reason… I wanted to make this a whimsical paper abounding with clever touches. But as time sped by the paper became a weight that was nothing to be whimsical about.”
Indeed, that’s always my problem. And no doubt we both have the capability to make clever touches, but that demon, procrastination: it must be hereditary. In spite of that, whatever we churn out still ends up being pretty good. His professor writes:
“As self-deprecatory as you evidence your mood, you are flagellating a live horse. Perceptions came through, observations were exposed. You uniquely approached a sometimes hackneyed construct.”
…But we know we can do better, that’s the rub.
While it’s awesome to see that my Dad was gifted like I was — it also KIND of breaks my heart. To see how this potential failed to find its niche in a career that would have allowed it to expand… I get really angry, like it makes me want to rend garments.
I guess the goal of parenthood is to take your children at least one step further than you could go yourself. I can, because of him. So I’m going to.
Side note: Yes, I bring up Poe like every entry… On procrastination, from “The Imp of the Perverse“:
“We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, – of the definite with the indefinite – of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest has proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, – we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long over-awed us. It flies – it disappears – we are free. The old energy returns. We will labour now. Alas, it is too late!”
Amen to that, brother.