— Tim Minchin, Tim Minchin and The Heritage Orchestra!
It turns out procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.
You see, procrastinators tend to be people who have, for whatever reason, developed to perceive an unusually strong association between their performance and their value as a person. This makes failure or criticism disproportionately painful, which leads naturally to hesitancy when it comes to the prospect of doing anything that reflects their ability — which is pretty much everything.
But in real life, you can’t avoid doing things. We have to earn a living, do our taxes, have difficult conversations sometimes. Human life requires confronting uncertainty and risk, so pressure mounts. Procrastination gives a person a temporary hit of relief from this pressure of “having to do” things, which is a self-rewarding behavior. So it continues and becomes the normal way to respond to these pressures.
Particularly prone to serious procrastination problems are children who grew up with unusually high expectations placed on them. Their older siblings may have been high achievers, leaving big shoes to fill, or their parents may have had neurotic and inhuman expectations of their own, or else they exhibited exceptional talents early on, and thereafter “average” performances were met with concern and suspicion from parents and teachers."
Well, man, no joke, that explains my entire life from High School onward.
The seed of the material I’m currently writing for the next show, which I don’t know when I’ll tour, is, “How has technology affected our romantic interactions?” Texting and technology have changed everything about modern relationships. It seems like you used to meet someone and then you’d spend time with them in person and get to know them. Now, there’s a middle phase where you engage in a bunch of nonsense-texting, trying to schedule and make plans. People overanalyze these tiny messages and go crazy.
You know when you meet someone and you feel like you had a decent connection, and then you text them and never hear back? That’s what I’m writing about. Dealing with weird problems that only this generation of people has encountered. Getting a text message and thinking, “Okay, does that mean they are really busy, or are they blowing me off?” Not hearing back from someone you’re interested in, and then seeing them post a photo of a pizza on Instagram. Isn’t that kind of a rude thing to do? Shouldn’t we respect each other a little more than that? Everyone’s been through some version of that shit, and it’s very interesting to me.
What are you supposed to do if you don’t like someone who is asking you out? Pretend to be busy ’til they get the picture? Or do you write an honest thing saying you’re not interested? Respond with silence? “What happened with Lisa?” “I don’t know, she never responded back to that frog photo I texted her…” I actually heard someone say that.
At recent shows, I’ve been reading audience volunteers’ text messages, and it’s the most interesting thing to me. It’s so personal. You can see the ebbs and flows of a whole relationship over the course of 10 to 15 short sentences. You also see how these unofficial rules about waiting to text, not sending a second text before hearing back from the first, etc., are so widespread, and so adopted by our culture. I read this one guy’s texts where he texted a girl once and then texted again an hour later, after she didn’t respond. There were audible gasps in the audience when I read that. The fact that that provoked that kind of reaction fascinating to me. So many people are dealing with that nonsense, and from doing shows about it, it seems like a there is a lot of frustration, and many people are just sick of that shit, and wish they could just spend more time with people in person."
Aziz Ansari discuses dating at the AV Club, and just nails modern dating woes when it comes to texting.
And not just dating, but, even as friends. When you text a friend and never hear back from them, but they’re posting to FB, liking your instagrams, tweeting… It’s fucking rude. And yet people do it ALL THE DAMN TIME.
Anyways, yes, dating in the modern technological age sucks. But hey, I can order a Chipotle burrito with my phone, so, it all evens out.
In 1969’s “On Death and Dying” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined her theory of the five stages of grief. Everyone was like, “Yeah, she’s got it allllllll figured out.”
Not quite allllllll figured out, I’m afraid. The Koob got many of the stages right, but she missed several important ones. I’ve compiled a list—in exact order—of what to really expect during the grieving process.
- Double Denial.
- Staying up all night playing PlayStation 2 games.
- Suddenly regaining interest in punk rock music.
- Carbohydrates. Simple, simple carbohydrates.
- Calling ex-girlfriends just to say “Hey.”
- Calling punk rock friends from high school just to say “Hey, man. Do you still like punk rock music?”
- Drinking expensive alcohol.
- Shopping at 7-11 more frequently.
- Double Denial.
- Regular Denial.
- Attending punk rock shows again.
- Shopping at 7-11 exclusively.
- Finishing up all the expensive alcohol.
- Drinking cheap alcohol.
- Getting to know 7-11 employees on a first name basis.
- Re-reading “High Fidelity.”
- Inviting 7-11 employees to punk rock shows.
- Receiving confused-sounding voicemails from ex-girlfriends.
- Avoiding punk rock shows after running into old punk rock friends.
- Re-vowing to never call your ex-girlfriends or your punk rock friends.
- Haggling for cheap alcohol.
- Getting “cut off” by the same 7-11 employees you recently considered your friends.
- Artsy, Creative Depression. (Your “blue” period!)
- Texting ex-girlfriends, apologizing for the phone calls.
- Boring, Regular Depression (Your “don’t feel like doing the dishes” period!)
- Texting punk rock friends, apologizing for the 7-11 employees.
- Re-reading “High Fidelity.”
- Plenty of rest!
- Sideways Anger.
- Too much rest!
- Begrudging Acceptance.
- Residual Anger.
- Actual Acceptance.
- Wondering what happened to the month of August.
- Almost getting around to doing the dishes.
- Re-deleting all that awful punk rock music from iTunes.
- Sending a mass email, apologizing to everyone—including ex-girlfriends, punk rockers, and 7-11ers—for everything.
- Throwing out the dirty dishes.
- Buying new dishes.
I don’t want to say that Paul hit it on the nose but my nose is bleeding he hit it so hard. Ouch.
- People who tell you secrets tell secrets about you.
- If a girl ever says “_____ is the funniest guy I know.” then it is guaranteed that that guy is not funny at all.
- If a girl you’re dating crops you out of her Facebook profile picture, you should not be dating that girl. That is a tell.
- People who think they are funny usually aren’t.
- If you stalk someone online, clear your history before letting anyone else use your computer, especially if it’s the person you stalk.
- People who are married have no idea what dating is like in a social networking world, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong about who you are or should be dating.
- If someone says “I like all music except country music.” then it is absolutely okay to never talk to them again.
- If your friends don’t like your girlfriend, then they will never like your girlfriend.
- If you don’t like somebody on a first date, you won’t like them on a second date.
- If you make a mix tape for a girl, be prepared to never like those songs again.
- Nobody wants to listen to the tap-tap-tap sound of your keys on your iPhone. Turn that off.
- The driver ALWAYS picks the music.
- Your friends are fallible. Understand that, because you’re a friend and you’re fallible.
- If you are over the age of 7 and use “u” or “r” in a text message or email, you should stop that immediately.
- You never have to do anything you don’t want to do. This includes, but is not limited to: parties, gatherings, trips, dates, shows, concerts, movies.
- Your friends will understand if you have to cancel on them for any reason because they’re your friends.
- Nobody responds to every text right away. We have our phone with us when we drive, when we sleep, when we watch a movie, when we go to work. This doesn’t mean we can and will always respond on time.
- The inverse is also true: we always have our phones on us, so there’s not an excuse for never texting someone back.
- Telling me you “liked” something I posted is not the same thing as actually hitting the “Like” button or heart. If you like it like it.
- Always say yes to shots.
- The best pictures are the ones people say shouldn’t be on Facebook.
- If someone says “I can’t dance” it means they don’t want people to watch them try.
- People who are on their cellphone while at the bank/checking out in line/trying to pay for anything anywhere are assholes. Don’t be an asshole.
- I use Facebook, Twitter, email, text, instagram, iMessage, tumblr and phone calls, and miscommunication still happens on a daily basis. Something is wrong.
- Never let a drunk girl control music at any kind of party. Ever.
- Loyalty is a great quality to have as long as you’re loyal to it.
- If someone says “It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where-“ I immediately stop listening to the rest of whatever that person is saying. Because it’s not.
- People who boast about never having seen Star Wars aren’t impressing anybody.
- Girls who say they don’t need to work out or exercise or go to the gym are usually the ones who really need to work out or exercise or go to the gym.
- Splitting the check in any group means you will always pay more than your meal actually costs.
- Vegas is always a good idea.
- People who weigh more than I do will always tell me how much healthier they are than me when they’re eating a salad and I’m not.
- It’s okay to stay in on a weekend; the world doesn’t end when you don’t go to a bar with your friends.
- I don’t feel sorry for anyone who married anybody in the armed forces, and nothing you post on FB will make me. Nor do I feel like your marriage is any harder than any other relationship on the face of the planet ever. Stop trying to make me feel bad. You knew what you were getting into.
- Dancing with your friends idiotically to bad Top 40 pop songs is always a good idea.
- It’s okay to like Top 40 pop music.
- My friend side of any wedding, be it friends of the bride or friends of the groom, is always the side having more fun.
- You will never understand the motivations of selfish and/or petty people, so don’t waste any more of your time trying.
- Girls who have to wear heels to go see a movie are not worth seeing a movie with.
- Nobody wants to date a hipster, so please, take a shower, wash your hair, and grow up.
- If you claim that “Nobody would ever dance to Paul Simon.” then you have no business hosting a dance party.
- Listen to your friends, they are always right, even if they’re not.
- Hiding your friends Facebook feeds is essential to remaining friends with them on Facebook.
- Don’t ever lower your standards; if anything, raise them higher. The bar is there to be met.
— That’s Bob Balaban quoting François Truffaut, from this interview.
The following is (most of) Aaron Sorkin’s Commencement Address to the 2012 Syracuse Graduating Class, delivered over the weekend, and available in full here.
And, you know what, you should read it. And, you know what, you should read it again.
Today is May 13th, and today you graduate, and today you already know what I know: to get where you’re going, you have to be good, and to be good where you’re going, you have to be damned good. Every once in a while, you’ll succeed. Most of the time you’ll fail, and most of the time the circumstances will be well beyond your control.
When we were casting my first movie, “A Few Good Men,” we saw an actor just 10 months removed from the theater training program at UCLA. We liked him very much and we cast him in a small, but featured role as an endearingly dimwitted Marine corporal. The actor had been working as a Domino’s Pizza delivery boy for 10 months, so the news that he’d just landed his first professional job and that it was in a new movie that Rob Reiner was directing, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, was met with happiness. But as is often the case in show business, success begets success before you’ve even done anything, and a week later the actor’s agent called. The actor had been offered the lead role in a new, as-yet-untitled Milos Forman film. He was beside himself. He felt loyalty to the first offer, but Forman after all was offering him the lead. We said we understood, no problem, good luck, we’ll go with our second choice. Which, we did. And two weeks later, the Milos Forman film was scrapped. Our second choice, who was also making his professional debut, was an actor named Noah Wyle. Noah would go on to become one of the stars of the television series “ER” and hasn’t stopped working since. I don’t know what the first actor is doing, and I can’t remember his name. Sometimes, just when you think you have the ball safely in the end zone, you’re back to delivering pizzas for Domino’s. Welcome to the NFL.
In the summer of 1983, after I graduated, I moved to New York to begin my life as a struggling writer. I got a series of survival jobs that included bartending, ticket-taking, telemarketing, limo driving, and dressing up as a moose to pass out leaflets in a mall. I ran into a woman who’d been a senior here when I was a freshman. I asked her how it was going and how she felt Syracuse had prepared her for the early stages of her career. She said, “Well, the thing is, after three years you start to forget everything they taught you in college. But once you’ve done that, you’ll be fine.” I laughed because I thought it was funny and also because I wanted to ask her out, but I also think she was wrong.
As a freshman drama student—and this story is now becoming famous—I had a play analysis class—it was part of my requirement. The professor was Gerardine Clark. (applause) If anybody was wondering, the drama students are sitting over there (applause). The play analysis class met for 90 minutes twice a week. We read two plays a week and we took a 20-question true or false quiz at the beginning of the session that tested little more than whether or not we’d read the play. The problem was that the class was at 8:30 in the morning, it met all the way down on East Genesee, I lived all the way up at Brewster/Boland, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but from time to time the city of Syracuse experiences inclement weather. All this going to class and reading and walking through snow, wind chill that’s apparently powered by jet engines, was having a negative effect on my social life in general and my sleeping in particular. At one point, being quizzed on “Death of a Salesman,” a play I had not read, I gave an answer that indicated that I wasn’t aware that at the end of the play the salesman dies. And I failed the class. I had to repeat it my sophomore year; it was depressing, frustrating and deeply embarrassing. And it was without a doubt the single most significant event that occurred in my evolution as a writer. I showed up my sophomore year and I went to class, and I paid attention, and we read plays and I paid attention, and we discussed structure and tempo and intention and obstacle, possible improbabilities, improbable impossibilities, and I paid attention, and by God when I got my grades at the end of the year, I’d turned that F into a D. I’m joking: it was pass/fail.
But I stood at the back of the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington watching a pre-Broadway tryout of my plays, knowing that when the curtain came down, I could go back to my hotel room and fix the problem in the second act with the tools that Gerry Clark gave me. Eight years ago, I was introduced to Arthur Miller at a Dramatists Guild function and we spent a good part of the evening talking. A few weeks later when he came down with the flu he called and asked if I could fill in for him as a guest lecturer at NYU. The subject was “Death of a Salesman.” You made a good decision coming to school here.
I’ve made some bad decisions. I lost a decade of my life to cocaine addiction. You know how I got addicted to cocaine? I tried it. The problem with drugs is that they work, right up until the moment that they decimate your life. Try cocaine, and you’ll become addicted to it. Become addicted to cocaine, and you will either be dead, or you will wish you were dead, but it will only be one or the other. My big fear was that I wasn’t going to be able to write without it. There was no way I was going to be able to write without it. Last year I celebrated my 11-year anniversary of not using coke. (applause) Thank you. In that 11 years, I’ve written three television series, three movies, a Broadway play, won the Academy Award and taught my daughter all the lyrics to “Pirates of Penzance.” I have good friends.
You’ll meet a lot of people who, to put it simply, don’t know what they’re talking about. In 1970 a CBS executive famously said that there were four things that we would never, ever see on television: a divorced person, a Jewish person, a person living in New York City and a man with a moustache. By 1980, every show on television was about a divorced Jew who lives in New York City and goes on a blind date with Tom Selleck.
Develop your own compass, and trust it. Take risks, dare to fail, remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt. My junior and senior years at Syracuse, I shared a five-bedroom apartment at the top of East Adams with four roommates, one of whom was a fellow theater major named Chris. Chris was a sweet guy with a sly sense of humor and a sunny stage presence. He was born out of his time, and would have felt most at home playing Mickey Rooney’s sidekick in “Babes on Broadway.” I had subscriptions back then to Time and Newsweek. Chris used to enjoy making fun of what he felt was an odd interest in world events that had nothing to do with the arts. I lost touch with Chris after we graduated and so I’m not quite certain when he died. But I remember about a year and a half after the last time I saw him, I read an article in Newsweek about a virus that was burning its way across the country. The Centers for Disease Control was calling it “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” or AIDS for short. And they were asking the White House for $35 million for research, care and cure. The White House felt that $35 million was way too much money to spend on a disease that was only affecting homosexuals, and they passed. Which I’m sure they wouldn’t have done if they’d known that $35 million was a steal compared to the $2 billion it would cost only 10 years later.
Am I saying that Chris would be alive today if only he’d read Newsweek? Of course not. But it seems to me that more and more we’ve come to expect less and less of each other, and that’s got to change. Your friends, your family, this school expect more of you than vocational success.
Today is May 13th and today you graduate and the rules are about to change, and one of them is this: Decisions are made by those who show up. Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world.
Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness, character. You’re too good for schadenfreude, you’re too good for gossip and snark, you’re too good for intolerance—and since you’re walking into the middle of a presidential election, it’s worth mentioning that you’re too good to think people who disagree with you are your enemy. Unless they went to Georgetown, in which case, they can go to hell. (Laughter)
Don’t ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.
Rehearsal’s over. You’re going out there now, you’re going to do this thing. How you live matters. You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.
For the class of 2012, I wish you joy. I wish you health and happiness and success, I wish you a roof, four walls, a floor and someone in your life that you care about more than you care about yourself. Someone who makes you start saying “we” where before you used to say “I” and “us” where you used to say “me.” I wish you the quality of friends I have and the quality of colleagues I work with. Baseball players say they don’t have to look to see if they hit a home run, they can feel it. So I wish for you a moment—a moment soon—when you really put the bat on the ball, when you really get a hold of one and drive it into the upper deck, when you feel it. When you aim high and hit your target, when just for a moment all else disappears, and you soar with wings as eagles. The moment will end as quickly as it came, and so you’ll have to have it back, and so you’ll get it back no matter what the obstacles. A lofty prediction, to be sure, but I flat out guarantee it.
Casey to Dana, in “Napoleon’s Battle Plan”, the penultimate episode of the first season of Sports Night. When Dana has found out that Casey has been secretly having a relationship with Sally. And then immediately following in a patented Sorkin walk-and-talk:
Casey: I don’t see why you have any right to be upset about this.
Dana: Then why were you keeping it a secret?
Casey: Cause I thought you might be upset about this. Well, I didn’t think you had a right to but I thought you might be upset.
“NBP” is a great episode of Sports Night that I find myself quoting from a lot (“You’re a woman, you know that? I’m going to stick you under a hair dryer.”) and pretty much most conversations I’ve had amongst certain friends and people I interact with socially, lately, could be summed up with those lines. “Well, I didn’t think you had a right to but I thought you might be upset.”
And, of course, the “Since when do I need your permission to have a social life?” comes up a lot too.
All that is to say, first we show up, then we see what happens.