Blog: Michelle Dowst

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April 27, 2012

The Power of Procrastination: Reports from the Field

Posted by Cara Solomon

For her first round of finals, Maia Levenson, JD ’13, tore through seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  That was very satisfying indeed.  This spring, she has turned her attention to Sci-Fi—more specifically, a short-lived show called Firefly, which explores the adventures of cowboys in outer space.

“I’m just waiting for the moment of desperation when I watch the full-length movie,” Maia wrote over email.

All across the Harvard Law School campus, students are studying for finals and writing papers.  Or pretending to study for finals and write papers.  Or openly and unabashedly not studying for finals or writing papers.

The value of procrastination has always generated debate in society, with some people calling it a critical part of the studying/writing/life process, and others convinced it is clearly a character flaw.  The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges put it thusly:

“The truth is that we live out our lives putting off all that can be put off; perhaps we all know deep down that we are immortal and that sooner or later all men will do and know all things.”

That’s all well and good, but Yonina Alexander, JD ’12, said the other day that she feels like this.

Some students, like Michelle Dowst, JD ’13, turn to music during times like these.  This week, Michelle found herself deep in mourning for Earl Scruggs, the legendary banjo player who died recently.  To learn more about Earl, Michelle recommends you listen to these recordings and read this.

Then there is Jordan Baehr, JD ’13, who decided that anything was more fun than studying for his tax test.  And so he began to draft a Wikipedia page on Human Rights and Climate Change.

Inevitably, there comes a point in the studying process when students are tempted to ask: why?  Caroline Schneider, JD ’13, reached that point earlier this week.  She turned to the movie Philadelphia for a reminder of why she had chosen to participate in what she described, very simply, as “hell.”

In the movie, Tom Hanks’ character explains the appeal of being a lawyer: “It’s that every now and again—not often, but occasionally—you get to be a part of justice being done. That really is quite a thrill when that happens.”

“AMEN,” Caroline wrote.  “Now back to paper-writing.”

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