HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: Gifts that get you through the year
I’ve never met someone who is a bigger procrastinator then I am. I obviously vindicate my lack of actually sitting down and doing work by telling myself that I’m not doing nothing, I’m thinking. Observing. Letting it all sink in. Gathering my thoughts.
All of these things are true, and I do believe thinking is working. Besides, if you think about it… being a columnist is hard work, it means thinking a lot about original ideas and thoughts and opinions all the time, two to three times a week for different publications and podcasts and never repeating your work is quite difficult.
There is no template for original thought, and sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t so I have to procrastinate in a way, it’s the only measure of true thinking for me.
However, my wife is a gold medallist in procrastination. She will literally do anything to succeed in her procrastination endeavours and well, I suppose it’s because she is thinking as well, but also because she needs something else in order to get work done… a prize.
She needs a gift, a goal, something to look forward to at the end of it all. And if there isn’t that… thing… that prize, then the procrastination peaks. The gift at the end of the goal can literally be anything. Mostly because of lockdown and being homebodies, it’s looking forward to something great to watch. A new documentary or crime series and movies with favourite actors only are real motivation.
“If I can get X done, the sooner I can watch Y,” is basically the order of the day. I have never seen someone become so depressed at the idea that there is nothing to watch at the end of a workday or over a weekend. But the circle gets bigger. Deadlines aren’t a daily thing, sometimes longer projects require more time, in which case the prize needs to be bigger. It’s all relative. And usually, it’s a holiday or a weekend away. She just can’t function without having something to look forward to. And in the times we live in, it’s become so bad that she can’t face getting through another year without a reward at the end of it all, and I think a lot of us feel like that.
2020 slipped into 2021 and it all just feels like more of the same. So this year, to get us through it all, we gave each other a gift that to get us through the year. Something to look forward to. Something to solve the problem before the problem arises, so to speak, and it’s a good way to motivate a loved one or a friend or even yourself out of the remnants of the 2020 blues.
I gave her the gift of a weekend away by herself on a secluded and very safe and clean horse farm where she could sleep as long as she wanted and do whatever she felt like doing without any interruption from work or a child or anything else. And my long-term plan is to keep these coming as little surprises she can look forward to throughout the year. It wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t far from home, but it was like having a Red Bull drip stuck deep in her veins and she emerged a happy, energetic person with a normal complexion instead of a pale grey and shiny blue eyes, ready to face another month or two before the next prance around a paddock comes around.
She, on the other hand, given that I have no taste for 2021 either, bought me the gift of a couple of tennis lessons. After not being able to use my body for so long due to a long bout of COVID and depression and well, a bunch of things, I totally forgot how to play. Well, I didn’t forget. I just couldn’t.
And honestly, it’s the loveliest thing to be able to know that I have something to look forward to in advance for the next five weeks of the year. That’s five weeks of inspiration and motivation and well, pure distraction from a year that seems to have just stayed in the same bed as the last without the willingness to get up and change the sheets before getting back in again.
I know Christmas is long gone, perhaps someone’s birthday has already passed, but along with keeping safe and sanitised and sane, what we need is gifts that get us through the year and that entails a little bit more than a good book or a handmade soap. We need something different, something a little bit more special.
It doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to have some longevity so that next week or the week after or even tomorrow doesn’t look so much the same as today. And 2021 doesn’t feel so much the same as 2020. It’s not too late. Give a gift that gets you through the year, even if it’s for yourself.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.