The late great author Douglas Adams was a master at avoiding deadlines, so much so that his agent resorted to drastic measures to keep him from missing them. One of my favourite quotes of his is this. “I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound they make as they slide past.” He developed a habit of taking load of baths around hand in time for each of his novels, three or four a day, his agent got wise to this eventually and would send plumbers round to turn his water off.
I have loads of deadlines right now, the worst of them being to write an artist statement for an upcoming show, I also need to write two invoices, wrap up a painting, pack cards, pack more cards, pack even more cards, write a hand out for Tuesday, get hand out printed on coloured paper at the printers for Tuesday, meet with a client, Tuesday, order materials for a teaching gig, run through and risk assess all the work for that, and take a show down on Wednesday . So what am I doing? why! writing a blog of course, with a nice cup of tea, in bed no less. Ok, it is eight on a Sunday morning so I guess I’m supposed to be having a lie in, but still.
What is it about human beings that makes us avoid the things we should be doing? Whether it be paperwork or making a difficult phone call, doing your accounts, tidying up. Things must be bad, I actually did some vacuuming yesterday!
There is also that thing where the more unpalatable the thing is we should be doing is, the harder the tasks we do instead are. I wonder how many great works of literature were written to avoid having tea with some crazy cat lady aunty. Moby Dick! And the tail of not cleaning the outhouse, Sense and Sensibility and how not to talk to the maid about not cleaning the chamber pots properly. Some days it seems like the whole world is up to some kind of avoidance strategy or another, trying to dodge making a choice or doing something that will genuinely make a difference. Sometimes we go to gargantuan length to even avoid actually having to face up to people and have the life we want. Unfortunately, we don’t all have agents devious enough to turn off our plumbing when we need to make a few hard choices and get a life. Neither do we have a rewind button to go back and try and do it again when we realise what a pig’s ear we made of it all.