These are the Czech verbs for, respectively, “to speak,” “to make excuses,” and “to apologize.” The base is the same. Only the prefix differs. Doesn't it seem sensible that these words should be close relatives? Doesn't it seem a bit odd, by comparison, that their English counterparts aren't? This is the sort of perspective-wiggling nugget that draws me to the study of languages.

I wrote the preceding paragraph because it seemed a clever way to introduce the subject of procrastination. I was all geared up to keep writing and see where it'd take me (I was inspired to inward thought, which is usually my cue to write here) and then I thought of a more pressing task. Just like a procrastinator, isn't it, to have barely started something before stopping! In this case my judgment was sound, as the pressing task was an assignment due the next morning. Even so, the pattern is amusing. The first paragraph came to life several evenings ago, and here I am finally vivifying the second. Clearly, procrastination is a subject I need to keep thinking about.

Even now, writing this means I'm not doing what I should be doing. I have a research paper of several thousand words to roughly draft by Tuesday morning. Between my always full Mondays and a chunk of other homework to be done tomorrow, there's not much time left. This time, however, I'm making the executive decision to postpone proper paper-preparing productivity until the morning. Because right now, writing this is exactly what I should be doing. One of the reasons I'm in school is to face down some familiar demons. I've finally gotten around to being ready to face down this one.

I am a procrastinator. I am a person who procrastinates. It is an old habit and it will die hard, if it can die at all. I have always been a procrastinator. I will always be a procrastinator. Which is not to say that I'm not working on it. Perhaps, by encasing my stretchy bad habits in countervailing stiff good habits, I can become a recovered procrastinator. Perhaps, once I get there, I can stay there. But the fact remains and will remain: I am a procrastinator.

So what? Who cares? Why does it matter? After all, I've arranged a comfortable life for myself. I'm studying at an estimable university, I'm enjoying myself intellectually every day, I'm back to lifting weights twice a week, I was named to the dean's list, and among other extracurriculars, I've been teaching myself (with a degree of success that has surprised me) to play some challenging piano pieces. It must sound like I really have it together. Surely whatever I've been doing must be working well enough?

No. It is not working well enough. I've not consistently managed my time well. I've not consistently left myself time to do my best work. Every time I turn in a rushed assignment, I first feel shame at the corners I cut without polishing, then (omluvit) vow to do better next time, then (vymluvit) shrug and hope this one's good enough. Then I wonder how the whole scheme'll hold up next semester, when my workload will be heavier. The answer is that it won't hold up. If I want to be happy with my work — which is to say, if I want to do work befitting my ability — I must change how I go about doing my work. And soon.

This is not a problem I have with school. It's a problem I have with myself. School is a convenient way of forcing the issue. When I see my future self seated at the piano, pencil in one hand, depressed keys in the other, trying to create profound music, I don't wonder whether I'm creative or profound enough; I wonder whether I have the necessary discipline.

Upon returning to my present chair, I wonder whether I'm making enough progress in that regard. The college environment demands discipline, to be sure, but nowhere near as much as I want to demand of myself. Being here is necessary but not sufficient. It is incumbent upon me to complete the work. I am not free to desist from it. If I am not for me, who will be for me?

If not now, when?