They say that you never know how much you truly appreciate something until it’s gone. In the case of my internet connection, this did not turn out to be true. I arrived for a new term in Durham and found that there was no internet connection in my new residence, and that it would take a week or two for it to manifest itself, yet no sense of loss and grief prevailed in yours truly. Rather, I was optimistic about the prospect of living without internet; affected by the same enthusiastic sense of adventure so typically found in people who’ve just embarked on camping trips, I was sure that this was going to be both fun and good for me. It would be a time of solemn reflection and dedication to spiritual betterment while rediscovering the beauty of life that often passes us by when we waste our time looking at pictures of cats online.
And initially, that was just what transpired. Within two days I had, lacking the distractions that without warning jump upon you when wasting time on the internet, washed and ironed all my clothes, found the matching partners for all my single socks, prepared three meals a day for the next two weeks, written half a dozen essay plans, taught myself to play the banjo and learnt how to speak Thai. I would look upon my achievements and beam, whilst condemning my former self for letting mundane online activities prevent me from fulfilling my true potential.
Before proceeding with the narrative, attention has to be drawn to the following aspect of my character: I love work. Not actually doing work, mind you. To function properly, I need to surround myself in work, and therefore make a point out of accumulating as much of it as possible. I find so much peace and serenity in the company of work that I can sit for an entire day just staring at it and consider it a day well spent. My work is loyal to me and I to it: it never leaves me and the mere thought of getting rid of it breaks my heart and shatters my soul. Neither can I sleep well unless I’m absolutely confident that there’s something I definitely should have done before going to bed. Peace of mind is achieved by knowing that I have made an honest effort to put things off. I’ve come to find that I can only experience true pleasure in doing things if there’s something else I should be doing instead.
This is to a great degree a retrospective analysis. Precisely because you do not realize the extent to which you depend on something until it’s no longer there, the role of the presence of work in maintaining my mental balance did not reveal itself before I, in the frenzy of productivity and self-realization, had rid myself of all of it.
Thus, when I finally took the time to sit down and do nothing but bask in a sense of fulfillment, the full extent of my productivity hit me, and I realized that I was in desperate need of things to put off doing. It started off innocently enough by gathering all of my housemates’ socks, mixing them, and discarding some of them so that the matching process would require extra effort. Removing a significant number of light bulbs came next, breaking them for good measure, ensuring that I could not only put off reinstalling them, I could also delay going to get new ones. Breaking things seemed fun; I smashed a couple of windows so that when I sat down to watch a movie or read a book later, I could do so while thinking that I really should call the glass guy at some point.
Stepping things up a bit, I went to buy an assortment of pieces of IKEA furniture, which in their unassembled state were mixed, screws and bolts and all, on the kitchen floor, with me gleefully anticipating postponing their assembly. Being in the kitchen inspired me to empty two ten kilogram sacks of jasmine and basmati rice on the floor and mix them so that I could wait until later to pick them apart again. Encouraged by the prospect, I repeated the process with flour and powdered sugar.
This went on for some time, with me constantly adding to the workload I could procrastinate over in a similar fashion until the house could be used as a quite realistic background set for a film set during the later stages of the siege of Stalingrad. I was quite happy with my efforts as I now had work I could avoid doing for at least a month into the future. Somehow my house-mates, turning out to be rather disagreeable, narrow-minded and unsympathetic towards my plight, failed to appreciate this achievement, instructing me to “sort this shit out” pronto, or else. This meant that I had to focus all my time and energy from that point on on pointless labour that did nothing to further my enlightenment or self-realization, without any opportunity for procrastination. All was not hopeless, however: I ended up remedying the latter by agreeing to write a piece for Flipside, which you’ll be happy to know I put off until the last possible moment.