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Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lately, I have been stuck in the Labyrinth of Bad Math, where every glance forward is a switchback to past mistakes, and every glance back adds up to something that should have been finished, or at least begun, 10 months or 10 years ago.

The labyrinth has a soundtrack, too. It goes like this: “If it’s this important or this easy, why have I waited so long? What’s wrong with me? Why do I do this? What do I always do this?” At which point regret and shame add more days and months to things undone.

The missed art, tasks, exercise, and dreams get punted, again, in the corre corre (run, run) of daily stuff. The labyrinth grows. Like quicksand, the mental struggle pulls you down.

Here’s the thing: every urge to understand procrastination, to grieve the things undone, is simply another undoing. All you can do…all you can do…is do. Something. One small step, then another, until 10 years of undone is suddenly trumped by Something Finished — the story written, the song recorded, fifteen pounds finally lost.

Tall tree canopy

Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What woke me from the maze madness — this time — was a Chinese proverb. It honors and dismisses regret in one line: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”

Don’t rush by that. Read it again. Slowly. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.” So, yeah, you coulda, shoulda, but you didn’t. For whatever reason, you didn’t. Procrastination acknowledged. Regret acknowledged. Fine.

“The second best time is now.”

“The second best time is now.

So yes, you have a mile long list of coulda-shoulda-s. So what? That’s yesterday’s tree. What can you plant today?

If it is writing that calls, the Writing from the Well workshop is a safe, sweet space to meet yourself in the world of words. Come play with us. You never know what might grow.

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