It occurred to me, out of the blue to seek guidance in solving the procrastination problem which has beset me, to some degree, my whole life; but which seems to have become habitual the past few years.
My acquaintance, Bobbyhad been telling me, beginning about 4 years ago, now, for example, that I should seek the help of a mental health professional, with regards to the long play of getting myself a “disability” check, through Social Security.
I began the process, but never followed through with making an appointment to see a shrink, whom I could have told about my apparent inability to follow through on things.
Baton Rouge Police Sweep The Streets Of Homeless, Ahead Of LSU Homecoming Events
I had a cellmate, in the Baton Rouge Jail, back in August of 2011, who had just about convinced me that my homelessness was vivid proof of my own inability to manage my life, and that I was a prime candidate for receiving help from “the system.”
“Why don’t you have a job, a house and a car?” he asked.
“Well, because my chosen occupation of being a street musician, in faith that it will lead to ‘something better,’ only affords me a minimalist existence -enough to keep me fed and provide a few beers every night.
I enjoy the freedom of that, after having been saddled with rent and car payments in the past, when I had to work from 7:30 in the morning until about 1:20 in the afternoon, five days a week, just to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head and a car on the road, to get me to work and back.
I would get home and smoke pot and drink myself to sleep, maybe after plucking the guitar for a half hour, getting out of that exactly what I was putting into it; watching my dreams slip away; so I could be up, bright and early, spending an hour, for which I wasn’t being paid, getting ready for work, so I could be there on time and keep the vicious cycle going.
If I ever did get ahead financially, it seemed that something would come along, like a toothache or the CV joint going out on my car, and I would wind up sitting on the bare mattress in my trailer, too broke to do anything else, and dreading the sound of the clock, as its hands closed at at 6:30 am, yet again.
I just began subtracting things from my life, like the trailer and the car, feeling a sense of liberation and relief with the jettisoning of each one, feeling like the passing of diarrhea out of myself and the feeling of returning health.
Soon, I found myself waking up each morning in a tent pitched in the seclusion of a beautiful hardwood forest, feeling like Henry David Thoreau, with the sun rising and the birds chirping; starting a fire to heat up a delicious cup of coffee and looking forward to a day that stretched before me like the skeins of sunlight that cut like glowing shafts through the smoke and spider webs that hung in the air around me. I was burdened only with the onus of having to play a guitar for a few hours each evening in front of a convenience store, as I enjoyed every live-long day.”
“You see, you’re mentally ill!” exclaimed my cellmate. “Just tell the shrink all of what you just told me, and they’ll fast-track a crazy check to you; I guarantee it!! That’s the purpose of those checks; for people like you that, for whatever reason, are just too f***ed up to take care of themselves, so they need the government to step in! You live in the woods; you think that’s normal?!”
But, after having spent 45 days in that jail (basically for looking homeless, and having admitted to a cop that I had consumed one can of Lime-a-Rita the same morning) I never followed up on my cellmate’s advice.
I was supposed to make an appointment with a psychiatrist who specialized in such things; and a lawyer who specialized also in such things (at a fee of 10% of any future disposition) as per the request of the SSI people, and soon a letter from them stating that, since they hadn’t heard back from me, my case had been indefinitely “closed.”
Bobby me that, if it could be proven that I had been afflicted with this mental illness told for a long time (verifiable through the record of my last official paycheck as having been received 15 years ago) then I would be “entitled” to a retroactive settlement which, as in the case of some people he knows, might be “something like 90 thousand dollars.”
“Yeah, but the shrink would have to diagnose me with some medically recognized disease; and would put me on some drugs that would make me genuinely bat-s**t crazy, and I might then just use the money as toilet paper and flush it all away…” I offered.
“You’re painting it black; at least go talk to the doctor!” said Bobby. 4 years ago “I’m starting to think that maybe you are crazy!!”
I guess I would rather hold out hope that I could achieve something beyond my wildest dreams, if I were to dream big. Bigger than the dream of standing in line in front of some window ready to push some paperwork through to some person who would invariably be looking at me over and thinking: What the hell is wrong with you? You’ve got two arms and two legs. Why can’t you work just like the rest of us?!
My grandfather on my mother’s side came over to this country on a ship from Poland, at the age of 5. During the 12 week voyage, his mother (my great grandmother) died.
He arrived as an orphan; learned the language; and began to work; walking for miles along the railroad tracks of Vermont, scooping up any coal that might have been pitched astray by the crewmen, intended for the furnace under the boiler of the steam engine. After 30 miles of walking, his burlap sack might have held enough coal so that he could contribute to the heating of the foster home where he lived.
They raised chickens and grew potatoes and all kinds of vegetables in the rocky soil. By the age of 12, he was working 12 hour shifts in the marble quarries around Proctor, Vermont. At the age of 15, he married my grandmother, who was 13 at the time. He was still too young to go off to fight in World War I.
We would make a few trips a year to visit them, where they lived in a modest 2 story house that had marble steps (there was a lot of marble around the place, go figure) and had a coal furnace in the basement (it was 22 below zero during one of our Christmas visits). Behind the house was about a quarter acre garden where everything from cabbage and potatoes, to corn and raspberries grew. Nearby was a chicken coup.
My grandfather, who had arrived as a Polish speaking child, had mastered English to the point of being able to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle, for amusement. He saved newspapers, and during one visit when I was about 10, I found him rummaging through the large shed that sat behind the garden, and, after I gingerly entering its musky smelling confines, he showed me a couple of the papers from his collection .
I remember the “Dewey Defeats Truman,” and “Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor” ones. Marilyn Monroe found dead? Read All About It!!
His coin collection featured pristine specimens of coins which had all been shiny and new when he had placed them in the collection folders, up to 50 years prior in the case of the oldest ones, where they where they continued to shine.
Whenever I asked my grandmother about what it had been like, going through The Great Depressionor if she had been scared when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (barring that the newspapers were spreading “fake news”) she would always fit into her narrative that they had always put their faith in hard work and God; had never missed a Sunday Mass, and, with a firm conviction would add: “And we never once had to ask anyone for charity; ever!”
And, so, I’m going to go apply for SSI benefits because I haven’t been able to get my act together enough to set some goals, make some plans, and follow through with them, due to procrastination? Give me a break.
There is a slight conflict with my inner values involved…
I just had the epiphany to Google: “Guided meditation for procrastination.” And this is where I leave you…