Not too long ago I tweeted the following:
I am addicted to working. When I am not teaching I am grading, and when I am not grading I am reading, and when I am not reading I am writing/journaling, and when I am not writing I am thinking about writing, and when I am not thinking about writing I am drinking coffee while thinking about how I ought to be thinking about writing. Chocolate.
I juggled a few projects over the last year and a half that left me little time outside of…hmmm…anything else. The last of these projects was a paper I presented for the Simone de Beauvoir Conference in Alicante, Spain. While putting the finishing edits on the paper I turned to my dear jet-lagged hubs and said, “After this I will take a break.”
He smiled and said, “We’ll see.”
Oh! I sensed a challenge!
“One month,” he said.
“Okay, one month. No working.” I chimed.
So here we are, folks, at what I am calling “Operation Relax.” I’m terrible at it! In the beginning I chatted up a friend at a dinner party about this “operation.” Within seconds of the conversation the sweet allure of writing about the meaning of relaxing
knocked on my mental door crawled out of the well of my mind like the girl from The Ring. How do people relax? Why is it necessary? What is the difference between relaxing and idling? Is this a cultural problem relating to the constant need to produce? Possible health issues? Physical manifestations? How about the impact of meditation? I bet Camus wrote something in his journals on this. I really must research the dynamics of…
Intuitively, I know that I need to allow time for my brain to re-boot, but accomplishing this is surprisingly difficult. My goodness, how to relax?
In the book The Art of Learning, author Joshua Waitzkin (chess genius) advocated embarking on long breaks in order to return to any work or craft refreshed and with a brighter perspective. In this spirit, I’m putting some faith in this plan and trying new activities.
In the last 3 weeks I’ve done the following:
1. I joined CrossFit. This has by far been the most
insane daunting thing I’ve ever done. For those of you who are familiar with it, you’ll understand when I say that every time a “WOD” (Workout of the Day) is posted I gasp: “No (expletive) way.” On the bright side, the physical activity draws me out of my mind and into the present. My students will never again be able to look at me with their big worrying eyes and complain that an assignment is “too difficult” because if this gal can run, row, do burpees, push-ups, and whatever hellish exercise they throw at me, then no one is ever getting away with saying “I can’t” in my presence.
2. I indulged in a shameless TV binge of seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones. I couldn’t bear to wait for Season 3 so I bought the book. Armed with said book I secured a place at Starbucks and have come to know the local Starbuckians, but I know to avoid Tom because he mistook my study of Philosophy for an invitation to tell me at length his thoughts on The Book of Revelations and the impending Rapture.
3. I am re-doing my patio and learning the basics about plants, like which ones are most likely to survive. I put every plant in a pot with my fingers crossed in hopes that I don’t kill it. “You must live,” I whisper. The neighbors might be concerned.
4. I reached out to friends and mildly drifted from my classic introverted persona. This has confused everyone involved, but in a good way 🙂
5. I’ve been to two comedy shows because why not?
A few days of this “operation” remain and I’m still somewhat stumped by the complexity of it. No doubt, I am guilty of immersing myself in a project, and near the conclusion, immerse myself into another one without stopping to relish the moments of the project itself. Relaxing, ironically, has fallen into a similar category for me. However, in my defense, I do know this: I’ve found a profession, namely Philosophy, that has gripped me in such a way that I don’t necessarily want to let go. I read classical and contemporary works with an overwhelming feeling of being grateful for the opportunity. That being said, with this “operation” I am also learning I must experience the world more fully in order to be thoughtful.
*By the way, this blog entry doesn’t count as working and, yeah, don’t tell hubs, okay?