“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ~ E.B. White
Procrastination: my old arch-nemesis.
Since high school, I’ve been notorious for pushing things to the absolute last minute. It was not uncommon to see me arriving in the morning with a paper due at 4 p.m. and zero words written, frantically fretting about my own stupidity for putting it off. With fear, stress, and Five Hour Energy as my fuel, I’d type furiously away in the back of my classes throughout the day, making periodic eye contact with the teacher to maintain my image as a diligent, fastidious note-taker.
I mean, the senior superlative my graduating class came up with for me? “Most likely to write her wedding vows at the altar.” It was that bad.
Procrastination plagues me in a different way now. E.B. White’s words in the quote above speak deeply to how I move through the world: torn between desires. Improvement or enjoyment—which to choose?
The battle between these calls does indeed make it difficult to plan the day.
On the one hand, I want to use my gifts, my power, and my privilege to help create a better world. I want to save the planet. I want to fight inequality and tear down unjust institutions. I want to help create better political systems and social structures that engender a sense of oneness with all beings through compassion and fairness.
On the other, I want to live every damn day to the fullest. I want to see, hear, and touch the beauty of this world through travel and being in nature. I want to go to festivals and dance until it’s literally dawn. I want to eat amazing food and drink great beer in the company of funny, kind, interesting people. I want to have so much fun my cheeks ache from the bliss of it all.
I want to laugh—hard.
In some ways, these desires seem irreconcilable. How can I work to address the world’s hairiest problems while at the same time appreciate the light-hearted, the silly, the sweet, the simple?
So I wait. Wait for something—the right time? Right person? Right place? But deep down, I know that the waiting is for naught. Life doesn’t set deadlines and due dates for us—we have to choose our own path.
But perhaps the choice need not be between the two. Perhaps we can find balance between these two calls, and instead of choosing between them, choose not to become mired in our own procrastination—a product of indecision and fear.
In all moments, we can choose to engage joyfully with the pain and suffering of the world. By this, I do not mean that we don’t care or make light of real troubles. Rather, it’s about holding the suffering—being aware of it and using all of our available faculties to work toward fixing it—all while maintaining a sense of humor about ourselves and our world and welcoming the many wonderful, special, beautiful gifts each of these has to offer.
Be outraged. Be joyful.
Be persistent. Be content.
Be committed. Be compassionate.
Be fearless. Be present.
Move through this life with lightness and joy, with passion and caring, with genuine heart and laughter, with a fervent yet egoless desire to leave things better than we found them.
This is how we can be of service to the world.
“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Author/Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis