Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 22, 2012
Today is a good time to follow through on last week’s good idea
Monsters were everywhere when I was a child. Though I never actually saw one, I knew they were out there – in the dark places, ready to pounce on me. I was afraid of the dark and its taunting shadows. That fear lingered with me into adulthood.
Slowly I began to embrace the truth that the monsters of the dark were imagined things. Light helped me believe. Monsters do not like light. When fear gripped me I turned on the light. Light quickly dispels fear of the dark. My home during early childhood was lit with lanterns. Moving from the shadows of kerosene lanterns to electric lights was extraordinarily welcome to a country boy fearful of the dark.
Though my fear of monsters of the dark has paled, I still have to contend with monsters of another sort. One of those is the monster I call Procrastination. He is never far away. He is parked just outside my door. Not a day goes by that he does not try to grab me. His one goal is to persuade me to put off for yet another day a good idea I had last week.
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. To be productive is to pull an idea forward and get it done. To procrastinate is to push an idea forward – to another day, week, or month. Nothing gets done. The idea is still good but it remains an idea instead of a deed.
To win my constant battle with the Procrastination monster I stick “reminders” everywhere, notes that warn me every day to get busy doing the things I need to do. One such reminder is a letter dated September 13, 2011. The letter was handwritten by our longtime friend Irene. It was a Christmas letter written in early September.
Irene began the letter with these words, “Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.” She continued, “I am sending this greeting early because if I don’t it may be too late. My pancreatic cancer is not behaving; it is spreading and my time is not!”
Our dear friend went on to express her joy that she was not in pain despite her cancer. “I feel great,” she said, “and I am surrounded by the love of my daughter and her husband and my grandchildren.”
Her letter was short and to the point. She wrote, “My time is short. However it is a happy time and I want to thank you for being my friend. Your friendship has been a blessing for many years.”
She closed with the words, “Happy Holidays!” and by expressing her love for us.
The letter stunned me but it took me two days to reply. And I did reply, telling her how deeply touched Dean and I were by her precious letter.
A few days later the phone rang. It was Irene’s daughter Kathryn, calling to tell us her Mom had died. Then she spoke these chilling words, “I got your sweet letter to her the day after she died. I am so sorry she did not get to read it.”
In my shock I realized that had I replied to Irene’s letter on the same day I received it, she would have read it the day before she died. Once again I had to admit the Procrastination monster had clobbered me.
I have Irene’s letter taped at eye level above my desk. Every day it reminds me that today is a good day to follow through on yesterday’s good idea. + + +