Thos. Jefferson on Delays and Procrastination

“Delay is preferable to error.”
—THOMAS JEFFERSON, U.S. president


Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. [but] 13  Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions are madness [stupid folly]  14 they chatter on and on….and they 15  are so exhausted by a little work that they [delay] it as long as possible instead of doing the job at all.

                           Ecclesiastes 10

Yes Ecclesiastes is right; that is the difference:  procrastination is ignoring the problem, not working on it, not thinking about it, planning or researching it.  It is simply acting like it is not there.  Being slow and hard working is different: though at a certain point that too becomes procrastination as you try to count the dancing angels on the head of a pin and wonder if you miscounted.
Sometimes of course you do not know the answer, or do not have the tools so you put it aside.  I put it aside but after a while that “side pile” is as big as Mount Aetna and then you come to realize, that everything, that life is in the side pile, and you’re just spinning your wheels.  That’s procrastination.
How to know the difference?  If you are exhausted by the thought of the work, it’s time to toss it out the window and move on.  It’s obviously got too much baggage associated with it  & dealing with that has become insurmountable.  Perhaps another time, another mood.
What if, and this is my case, I don’t have the room?  Then you are thinking too big and need to pare down until your dreams fit the room at hand.  Paula Nadelstern did her Kaleidoscopic Quilts on a Kitchen Table because 1) she wanted to quilt 2) had no other space.

The key is to make the dream fit your resources, not the other way around as then you are squandering your time and money, and both are precious…for we do not live forever, no matter how long it may seem.


I continued 0n the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: [instead] all my servants were gathered thither unto the work.
                                 –Nehemiah v:  15-16

PIctures. 1. Thomas Jefferson  by Mather Brown.  London,1786. Copyprint of oil on canvas. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Bequest of Charles Francis Adams 

#2   Painting of Mount Aetna. Italy by American Thomas Cole 19th century.
#3.  Kaleidoscope Quilt by Paula Nadelstern.
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