Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Discovery of Hot Water: Enter the Dark Playground, Sherlock.

My first year teaching high school was tough. Very tough, actually, since I’m ridiculously sensitive, not naturally organized or strict, and not exactly physically intimidating. It got to the point where I was crying most days…occasionally during class. One day, a well-meaning friend and colleague took me aside, and said, “You know, Rebecca, you’ve really got to stop crying in class.” I looked at him incredulously and said, “C, do you really think I find myself standing in front of 38 unruly fourteen-year-old boys and think, ‘Hey, this would be a great moment to cry?!?’ I cry because I can’t help it.” (In my defense, these boys were pretty tough Brooklyn kids even if it was a Catholic school, and class size was big—but yeah, I know it wasn’t good).  

Italians have a term for when someone discovers something obvious. They call it “la scoperta dell’acqua calda”—the discovery of hot water.  Hot water is awesome—but it’s not exactly news.  The more vulgar neighborhood I grew up in might have called it the “No s*%#, Sherlock” category. But it’s funny how  easy it would be to fix other people’s problems. No biggie:  they should just stop doing what they’re doing. Change. Quit. Be different. Their difficulties are easily resolved. Our own problems, on the other hand, aren’t so easy. If you suffer from any kind of emotional or psychological challenge, you know it’s not so easy to change.  If you get angry easily, other people may tell you to just count to ten or to try other simple strategies that work for people who don’t have major anger problems.  Likewise, if you procrastinate, people will tell you to start your work early. Gee, thanks. It’s not that easy, Sherlock.
All this is to say that I really loved this post on procrastination.  Because it helps you get inside the procrastinator’s brain, and really understand what’s going on. Which is actually kind of fun, even if you’re a procrastinator and looking into your own brain makes you feel a little sick.  And if you’re not, well, welcome!

And lest I get tempted to linger too long in the dark playground it describes so well, there is a follow up:

There is hope, after all!

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