As I’m writing this, I’m looking at an envelope on my desk. It’s an important letter to customs. It’s written, sealed and stamped. But still, it’s been lying there for the past 3 days.
In an effort to run my errands more efficiently, I like to batch process tasks that can be done at the same location.
For example, if I get a call that a package has arrived but I also want to buy a present and both are near my gym, I’ll wait and do all those things together when I had scheduled my workout. This saves me time because instead of 2/3 times I have to go downtown only once.
But the line between efficiency and procrastination can be a little blurry sometimes. Like when I write a letter to customs clearance, stamp it and then say to myself “Wait! I’m going to post this the next time I have to pass the mailbox on my way to somewhere else. This saves time. Saving time is smart.”
But if I’m honest with myself, that’s a dumb excuse. The deposit box is right around the corner. It would take me only 3 minutes. Yet somehow I’m still waiting for the perfect moment.
The Moment That Never Came
A long time ago I met a girl I liked a lot more than the girls I usually met. We were lying in my bed, and it was obvious were it was heading. But for some reason (romantic movies may have played a part), my young brain believed that I should kiss her at the perfect moment.
So I waited for that. Sometimes a moment came that seemed close to perfect, but never the real deal. So I didn’t kiss her in the end. And she probably wondered “What’s up with this guy? Doesn’t he want me?” and stopped dating me. The end ?
Luckily, both of those situations aren’t such a big deal. Sure, I missed out on some potential poontang. Or even love . But then maybe I wouldn’t have met the women that I love now. And in the case of posting the letter, the worst that can happen is that I lose a pair of shoes.
But there’s some situations where waiting for the perfect moment can really fuck things up for you:
When my homeless period in California ended and I was about to hop on a plane to Belgium, I promised my best friend there that I’d come visit him some time.
We had it all planned out. I’d show up in his restaurant unannounced, complain about how horrible the food was and demand to see the chef. Then when he’d come out I’d hug the bejeebles out of him, show him the bottle of jack I had brought and we’d spend all night walking on the beach, reminiscing about the “old days”.
Every year that passed by, I thought about going. But it seemed like such a big thing and I could never fit it in (that’s what she said). There was always money to spend on something else. Or gigs to play in Belgium. Or someone I wanted to cuddle with more than I wanted to leave the country. I was always waiting for the perfect moment.
Last year I though about visiting him again, so I decided it was time, and I Googled where my long lost friend lived. But I found out that he lived nowhere. Not that he was homeless again or anything. It’s just that he didn’t live any more.
If only I hadn’t waited for the perfect moment…
The Opposite Example
2 weeks ago my grandpa had decided to undergo palliative sedation. This made me think about the kind of stuff people regret on their death-bed. So I went to visit him and thanked him for all that he had done for us, including the very fact that I exist. Because without his love for my grandmother,I wouldn’t even have a body I could use to walk this earth. The next day he decided not to do it (though he has since passed away).
It was an interesting experience. Knowing exactly when someone was going to die, for the first time prompted me to make sure I told them everything I still wanted to tell them. This gave me a chance to not make the same mistake I made with my friend from California.
This is a rare occurrence. Most of the time, we act as if everything is permanent. While in fact, nothing is. While we’re busy going through the motions, we forget that things like deaths, break-ups and losing a job don’t always come with advance markings in our calendars. When we think of the future, we always think they’ll still be here. I think that deep down, we do know that everything could be over in a split second. But we don’t like to always be aware of that fact so we push that awareness away.
And that makes us believe we can put things off until the perfect moment. But think about this:
When you are waiting for the perfect moment to do something, what does that tell you about that specific something?
It tells you that it’s either:
A) Something important that needs to get done or talked about
B) Something or someone you deeply care about
C) Something that deep down in your heart of hearts, you want to do more than the other things you currently fill your life with.
It’s ironic, because that means these things that we’re postponing until the perfect moment are actually our biggest priorities. They shouldn’t wait.I
f you don’t do them today, there’s a chance you’ll never get to do them at all. Even when it may not feel that way right now.
I’m sure you can think of a couple of things like that in your own life right now…
- It’s that project you want to start, or that weird idea for a company/social media channel that you want to try out for the heck of it. But you never feel 100% ready yet.
- It’s reaching out to that person you really don’t know well but somehow feel you could be become good friends or business partners.
- It’s quitting your job or applying for the new one. It’s telling your friends and family you love them for the first time. It’s doing the darn dishes cleaning your house ?
- It’s that one sexual fantasy you’d like to try out with the person you love. Or that one romantic surprise you had for them, that you won’t be able to do anymore when you’re broken up (yes, it can happen).
- It’s that lie or secret you want to come clean about with your best friend. You know… The one were they react with “When were you planning on telling me this ? ”
… and the answer is of course always “I was waiting for the perfect moment.”
I may not know what it is you want to do so badly that you want to get the timing right. But I can tell you this: I do know what moment it is right now. As I’m spending some time in it myself.
And it feels pretty darn perfect to me ?