I watched a TED talk once, that talked about procrastination, and why it happens. The cute little drawing explained procrastination as the “instant gratification monkey” that would take over the steering wheel of our brains whenever there is something not fun to do, to be scared off only by the “panic monster” that was awoken by approaching deadlines. Another podcast explained procrastination in a more scientific way. The host talked about how the primitive instinct to get away from danger treats the task at hand as the source. Then suddenly a switch flips closer to the deadline and then the deadline is the source of danger.
Both are true I suppose. The task at hand always seems so hard to do until crunch time, then things usually go smoothly (but we won’t talk about when it doesn’t, that’s a monster for another time.) And of course the time spent procrastinating is usually spent doing things that are supposed to be fun but the guilt is always there in the background.
The real trouble starts when you don’t have a deadline. Papers, assignments, readings, 9/10 times procrastination has minimal effect on the final product. The things without deadlines are at a much higher risk of never happening. Eating healthy, working on personal projects, even rituals that aren’t set to be on specific dates (and often times also the ones that are), they all are immune to that panic monster, immune because the task is always the enemy, the illogical source of danger.
This has had an enormous impact on my practice. I knew I was polytheistic years ago but never had the deadline for research or rituals or even reaching out to deities. It was only about a year and a half ago that I pushed myself to get more involved and call myself Kemetic. Of course, every time I push myself, there are benefits, great things happen, and yet, it’s still as hard as that first time.
A few minutes ago I did a warding ritual and involved Bast and Sobek, asking Them to aid me. In over a year and a half this was the first time I involved Them in a part of my witchcraft beyond prayer and offerings. I don’t know if it was the fear of being unworthy, or the fear of rejection, or the fear that I really am making all this up, but no matter what, for so long, the task was the source of danger.
Despite the fear, I did it, and I felt Them with me, one hand on my shoulder and one on my wrist as I weaved the energy around myself. It felt divine, as well it should, and for a moment, I forgot my fear, and the anxiety that has kept me anchored to the worst reality was gone, and for a moment, I was home.
I don’t know if it was luck, or desperation, or divine nudges in the right direction that I managed to finally do this, but I’m glad I did. Yet, for so many other things, I realized, I might never reach that point. So many times, I tell myself: ENOUGH. I will start eating healthy. I’m sick of living like this, I will clean and organize more often as my disabilities allow. I will start paying attention in class. Etc. But it never happens. Don’t get me wrong, it works for maybe 4 days, a week tops, but it never lasts. It’s not a real deadline.
It reminded me of my Catholic mother. In her journey to lose weight, she told me she couldnt make the promises to herself. She had to make it to her god. She couldn’t make her life better for herself, she had to do it for something bigger than herself. As an agnostic kid, I thought that was absolutely nuts, and wrote it off as another crazy thing she did. But I have to say, despite anything that happened in my childhood, that was one of the nuggets of wisdom that I’m glad I have now.
The other day I realized I basically did the same thing with my practice. 9 months ago, I made a promise to Bast regarding my practice, and somehow, despite setbacks, I haven’t broken it. I had to be accountable to someone other than myself, and more importantly, to something bigger than myself. The deadline became real. The guilt and disappointment became tangible as opposed to an undercurrent of regret that I could ignore. Bast became my rock. Though I am not part of the KO (yet, the jury is still out on that), I consider Her my Mother. To have Her as the keeper of my promises, suddenly I had done more in my religion and craft than I ever had.
This isn’t to say that this fixes all of my problems, not by a long shot. I don’t suddenly have unlimited energy to do the things I need to so long as I promise. But this is a breakthrough for me. I am so grateful to have realized that the Netjeru can help me if only by being there to make me keep my promises. I’ve always had reservations about asking for Their help, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable asking for things, but this, I can do. I can make my life better, I can serve them in my own ways. I can do this.