John Tierney’s latest column covers the phenomenon of procrastinating pleasure. Just last night I was complaining how I didn’t use any vacation time (except for a trip home on Thanksgiving, which is barely a “vacation”) this year. But it was my own fault for not going through the motions of picking a place, date, and flight, thinking that I’d get around to it next month. And now it’s a few days till New Years.
For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Yearâ€™s resolution: Have fun … now!
Then you just need the strength to cash in your gift certificates, drink that special bottle of wine, redeem your frequent flier miles and take that vacation you always promised yourself. If your resolve weakens, do not succumb to guilt or shame. Acknowledge what you are: a recovering procrastinator of pleasure.
It sounds odd, but this is actually a widespread form of procrastination â€” just ask the airlines and other marketers who save billions of dollars annually from gift certificates that expire unredeemed. Or the poets who have kept turning out exhortations to seize the day and gather rosebuds.
I thought this was the most eye-opening revelation about prolonged pleasure-procrastination:
Once you start procrastinating pleasure, it can become a self-perpetuating process if you fixate on some imagined nirvana. The longer you wait to open that prize bottle of wine, the more special the occasion has to be.
Remember the advice offered in the movie â€œSidewaysâ€ to Miles, who has been holding on to a â€™61 Cheval Blanc so long that it is in danger of going bad. When Miles says he is waiting for a special occasion, his friend Maya puts matters in perspective:
â€œThe day you open a â€™61 Cheval Blanc, thatâ€™s the special occasion.â€