By now, if you’ve been reading my column—where I variously brag and complain about how un-simple my life is, largely because of my overactive imagination and shaky time management skills—you’re probably thinking something along these lines:
“OK Lance, we get it. You’re a friggin’ disaster, and you know it. You’ve clearly got potential, but you’re undone by your procrastination and your addiction to adding new tasks and burdens to your already-overwhelming to-do list. So we get it—thanks so much for taking us on that sad journey into the self-built prison of doom that is your inevitable future. Again, thank you sooo much. What a joy!”
Wow, you’re almost as sarcastic as I am! And I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The only problem being that I don’t believe in doom—or in inevitable futures, for that matter. And perhaps most importantly, I don’t believe in quitting. So if my crazy-ass brain and my bad habits plan to continue their efforts to undo me, I am going to get up every day and push back.
Yes, I realize that I’m talking about myself as though I’m split in two. On the one side is my crazy-ass brain and bad habits, and on the other side is me. One nice thing about that arrangement is that I don’t have to take responsibility for what those other guys do: “No, you see, I didn’t want to do it that way, but my mind insisted.” Or: “I was totally set to get it done, but then my procrastination kicked in.” Or: “Actually Your Honor, I did know she was your daughter, but my crazy-ass mind and bad habits told me not to sweat it.”
You get the idea. I guess ever since I stopped being able to blame things on my childhood imaginary friend Egger McDonald, I had to find a new scapegoat. So instead of blaming my imaginary friend, I just blame my friend Imagination. After all, he’s the one who convinced me to keep smoking cigarettes for 15 years after I wanted to quit. He’s the one who figured out how to keep me from finishing that screenplay (and those other ten screenplays). And he has come up with every excuse I’ve ever used—and let’s face facts, I’ve used an excuse or two in my time.
What can I say? My old friend Imagination is a very smart, very persuasive fellow. He doesn’t always know what’s best for me, but somehow he almost always knows how to get me to avoid it. I’m pretty sure he created the whole procrastination thing from the ground up—though you’d never get him to admit it. (He tends to blame negative things on me, if you can believe that.)
But here’s the thing. You can’t tell my imagination this, OK? The thing is, I’m even smarter and more persuasive than he is, and I have gradually been turning my imagination around to my side, without him even realizing it. At the same time, I’ve reduced his ability to overwhelm me, by creating outlets (or at least storage bins) for all my crazy-ass thoughts.
The end result is that I am better poised to turn the tide in my ocean of overwhelm than one might guess from reading these e-pages every two weeks. In fact, in addition to making you feel better about your own life, laying out all my foibles and predicaments in this space has been a big help for me. The more cards that are out on the table, the less cards remaining up the sleeves of “the other me”.
I quit smoking 8 years ago, by the way. I just stopped one day, and I haven’t even come close to smoking a cigarette since. I tricked my brain into finally supporting the right side of the battle, and that was it. Done deal. 15 years of angst and strife and self-destructive stupidity, over with in one simple night of clarity.
So don’t give up yet. I haven’t, and neither should you. Between you, me, and my imagination, we’re going to turn this badboy around, and my upcoming columns will talk about how. And as I said when I started writing this column, if I can do it, anyone can.
Except Egger McDonald, because he’s not real. The child psychologist and I eventually came to an agreement on that.