I once heard a Ted talk. It discussed a monster that lives inside all of us. A monster that we despise, and a monster that we simultaneously cannot live without. This monster is both the bane of our existence, and also the one thing that makes our existence even moderately successful. Am I just making something up? Conjuring something from the depths of my imagination? No. This monster is backed up by psychological and evolutionary research. This monster has many names, shapes, and iterations. But you may commonly know him as the Panic Monster.
While Panic can cause many behaviors, some healthy, and some very unhealthy, I’m choosing to discuss one of the benefits of the Panic monster. It causes the brusque end of procrastination.
Procrastination: The beautiful method by which we trick our highly logical minds into believing that time doesn’t actually move forward. Where we insist that later is better than now, and that everything will magically fall into place. You continue to live your idyllic life, unbothered by the weight of responsibilities you have carefully trained your mind to ignore.
But though your mind is a flexible thing, able to accept lies and truth and accuse truth as being lies, your responsibilities are not quite as transient. They exist whether you believe them too or not. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and responsibilities don’t change just because you have changed your mind’s perception of them.
But then, when the carefully built charade is close to falling apart, when the tottering house of cards is about to come crashing down, something changes. Remember that monster? Well, it has been asleep. Lulled into a gentle slumber by your mind’s deceptions, the panic monster suddenly awakes to find a structure crumbling all around it. In a rage, it snaps itself awake and advances on the crevices of your brain, shaking them down like an Italian mob boss to a negligent tenant. Unwilling to be sedated any longer, the Panic monster comes into its full glory, forcing itself onto your mind and coercing you to act.
And suddenly you too snap awake, acutely aware to the painful reality that work has to be done and you have no yet done it. And as the panic monster activates your drowsy hypothalamus, sending a wave of adrenaline throughout your bloodstream, you find yourself suddenly able to jump into action, and perform whatever Herculean task you have to complete in this minuscule period of time.
You frantically work, setting aside all distractions, (usually), and devoting yourself to the task at hand, the Panic monster a slave driver, pushing you to work harder, better, stronger.
And then in some miraculous way, (although I don’t know if you can call you miraculous if it happens on a weekly basis), you finish your work, and collapse relived into the nearest chair. The monster has succeeded.
You notice your phone buzz. You look and see that you have a reminder to accomplish the next impending item on your to-do list. But you’re tired. You just finished so much work. You deserve a Netflix binge. After all, there’s so much time left. You have 4 whole days. That’s 96 entire hours! And so you curl up and turn on your TV
And as the light of the TV flickers in your dark room,
Your Panic monster slides back to sleep.
Patiently waiting to be awoken again.
(If you haven’t noticed, I procrastinated on this blog post)
Written by Joshua A.
April is the cruelest month, breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain.
-T. S. Eliot
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Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.