A Letter to Afghanistan

There’s a letter that I’ve been meaning to write.  I should have done it 6 weeks ago.

Procrastination is not about being lazy or disorganized.  It’s a self-defense mechanism.  You might be thinking that’s a crazy notion, but it’s totally true.  If you commit to doing something and then do it poorly, then you’d probably call yourself a failure.  But, if you don’t do the thing at all…well…then you didn’t fail, did you?  You simply didn’t try.  By not trying, you protect yourself from a feeling of failure.

Procrastination is one of those things in my BACKBONE that I’ve always struggled to correct.  Knowing what it is…a defense mechanism…allows me to face the fear of my to-do list and prepare for the potential of failure. 

So, in spite of the fact that I might do this poorly, here it goes…

Dear Mindy:

I got your letter a few weeks ago and was thrilled to find it in my mailbox. I knew you had left for Afghanistan, but your deployment seemed to happen so quick that I didn’t get the chance to call and say good-bye.


What a whirlwind your life has been. Just last summer you were planning your wedding and opening bridal shower gifts under a sunny sky.  A few months later, you were walking down the aisle.

And then…off you went to serve our country.

Planning a wedding and getting your orders shortly before the ceremony had to be hard, but we were all so proud of you…and still are.

KennedyI’ve been carrying your letter around in my purse since the day it arrived. I thought if I put it somewhere obvious (like my purse), I would remember to write a speedy reply.

So, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t written back yet.   Honestly, I don’t know.  I could blame it on the fact that everyone in our family has the late gene.   But, that would really be a cop-out.  I think the honest reason is that I don’t know exactly what to say. I’m procrastinating to protect myself from the failure of writing a bad letter.

The typical “hi, how are you, how’s the weather?” doesn’t seem enough.  Questions I want to ask, like “is the war changing you?” or “are you scared?” don’t seem appropriate.  And, telling you about life’s challenges here would seem trivial in comparison to what you’re facing every day. So, I’m going to get out some paper…grab a pen…and write you a long letter. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to say…but I’m sure the words will come once the ink begins to flow onto the page.  It will probably be about just random, every-day stuff…like snowstorms, all-you-can-eat spaghetti  dinners, and American Idol.  The typical American day-to-day life that many of us don’t appreciate nearly enough.


We love you. We’re proud of you.  Come home safe and sound. 


Do you procrastinate?  Is there anything that’s been on your to-do list for way too long?

If you liked this post, you may also like Great-Full-Dead and Hey Mr. Postman.


15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by 1959duke on March 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    First of all just write the love you have put into this post and you’ll do great! There is a letter I need to write than I have simply been lazy about writing.


  2. You know Tracy, I never even thought of procrastination as being something that if you don’t do the thing at all…well…then you didn’t fail, did you? You simply didn’t try. By not trying, you protect yourself from a feeling of failure.

    But, you’re right. Often the things that I have procrastinated about were things I avoided because I was afraid of not doing them well, thus, feeling like a failure.

    I’m not a big procrastinator when it comes to doing things I need to take care of in my daily life, however I’ve been known to procrastinate with things like trying something that’s not comfortable. I remember when I was asked to teach a Reflexology class at a massage school (something I had never done before), and I procrastinated on giving them an answer. Why? Because I was afraid of failing. Yet, I DID end up doing it and loving it!

    Wonderful letter to your friend!


    • So, so glad you decided to do the class, because when you succeed at something you thought you might fail at, the success is that much sweeter. Keep on, keeping on, Ron.


  3. Procrastination seems to have entered my life without my permission. I never used to put things off, but now, there are things I’m expected to do that I don’t really want to do. Those are the things are procrastinate about. When my life was my own, I’d just say, “No.” and move on, but now I find myself not able to do that. As a parent, certain things are expected, things I’m not really crazy about. So, if I put it off long enough, perhaps those things will go away. And sometimes, they do.

    When my cousin was serving in Afghanistan shortly after the conflict erupted, I sent him one letter a week. In it, I spoke of things I always did. I hoped it put some normalcy in his otherwise chaotic situation. It also gave him something to comment about in his letters when he didn’t want to write about what was happening there.

    Also, with each letter, I sent a chapter to a YA novel I was writing at the time. It was my hope it would give him a break from what he did every day. I published that novel, Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove, last year and dedicated it to him.

    Perhaps you have a short story kicking around that’s ready to be shared. Send it to your friend. It will give her something to read when she needs to think of something other than the danger she lives in.


    • What a fabulous idea Diane. Perhaps I’ll give it a go. Thanks much for the wonderful suggestion. About the short story….not about igonring my to-do list until the tasks just go away. If I could make just one to-do go far, far, away it would be laundry. But, it has a way of stacking up on me until it can no longer be ignored!!


  4. Got that procrastination thing going, too!


  5. Great post, Tracy! Yes, procrastination protects us from failing – but ironically, it also MAKES us fail. The perfect fantasy letter we didn’t write is SOOOO much better than we one we did/do – but the one that MEANS something to our friend is the one we actually wrote and mailed.

    Good for you for getting it done – and what you had to say was so honest and poignant I’m sure she was delighted to get it. It may help her understand why other friends and family might sometimes have trouble keeping in touch, too.


    • You’re so right about…meaning. The hand-written letter I wrote this weekend was all about funny things that have been happening in our family – I hope she likes it!


  6. Posted by Kalli on March 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    i really have a bit of OCD so procrastination is usually not something i can deal with…..must finish the to do list or i won’t sleep!


  7. I can definitely relate with the procrastination thing. It’s something that I’ve been working on. I’m much better than I used to be, but sometimes I fall back into my old patterns.

    For some reason I procrastinate with returning phone calls. I really dislike talking on the phone, so that’s probably why. 😉


    • Hi Candice! As I typed above to Diane – laundry makes me procrastinate like nobody’s business. It’s the one household chore where “dislike” is an understatement.


  8. I procrastinate all the time. I really should work on that.


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