Marilyn Englander: Future Self

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 (Marilyn Englander)

Marilyn Englander’s procrastinating, last-minute self had to adjust to the pandemic but with relaxing restrictions her old self may make a comeback.

A big challenge for me as a teacher was trying to get the kids to have empathy for their future selves. Every day, we’d devote 15 minutes to making a schedule for completing assigned work. The kids would place next to nothing on tonight’s “to-do” list, but pile up tasks for the nebulous, limitless weekend. I’d beg them to imagine how they’d feel Sunday night, confronting the heap of all they’d postponed. No luck. Everyone believed in a future self who was superhuman, needing no sleep, immune to pain.

Yet, I’ve spent years struggling with the same issue myself. Who hasn’t?

Why do now what can be postponed for the rosy future in which all is possible with zero effort?

It’s taken a lifetime to begin to get it. The pandemic did nudge me along. Things I formerly would procrastinate now had to be scheduled: grocery shopping in an empty store at 8 a.m., picking up a book at the library within an assigned 15-minute time frame. Worse, reserving a lap lane at the pool required planning two weeks out. I laid out the garden on paper in January to minimize trips to the nursery and monitored household supplies to leave time to order them online. I even stockpiled birthday cards and stamps; sprinting to the post office last minute was out of the question. How orderly my life began to feel.

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Just as poor grades on a report card often were the catalyst for my students to develop paced work habits, this year seared the same lesson into me. I lovingly cared for my future self.

But now, of course, I’m off the leash. Sadly, I can feel myself reverting to my old ways. I procrastinate with abandon, run out of Tylenol and printer ink, rush to the pool just before closing time, plan meals last minute and have to dash to the store.

In the mirror, Future Me looks back, craving a lot more.

With a Perspective, this is Marilyn Englander.

Marilyn Englander is a North Bay educator.