(Author’s note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago. It’s no longer “dead week” at Vandy, but I like to think this little musing still holds true.)
You’ve probably read “The ‘Busy’ Trap”, an article published in The New York Times about a year ago. It’s resurfaced in my mind this week as it’s currently “dead week” at Vanderbilt–the week before finals where it is supposed to be dead due to lack of school work, but in actuality is called “dead” because most students are dying from the amount of work they have to do.
I, however, seem to have lucked out this week in that I only had a few things due at the beginning of the week. Though finals loom in the very near future, I find myself surprisingly calm and unstressed. This has not been the trend for most of the semester for Nathan and me (you might be able to tell from the fact that we haven’t posted since September…) and thus I’ve found this feeling to be quite unsettling.
The nice thing about free time, or at least the illusion of it (I suppose there are always things I could be doing) is that it gives me time to delve. Something that I both love and hate about the college learning experience is that I fill my time up so fully that I rarely have the chance to really dive into the things I’m learning. I get to experience a wide variety of things, which I love, but I can’t always throw myself into them as much as I’d like to. Extra time gives me the chance to explore.
That takes place in a number of ways–a few nights ago, I simply wandered campus in the cool dark of night and took it in. Though I’ve lived here for nearly four years now, many of my walks are spent with my eyes and fingers on my phone or a study guide. There’s a lot to be said for taking a little time to observe.
A chilly, blurry evening at Vanderbilt or my mind on busyness. You decide.
Lest this turn into one massive cliché, there’s a crux to this problem of busyness–I love it. I love being right on the edge of going insane, I love having my day pretty thoroughly scheduled, and I thrive on those moments where I feel like I’m juggling too many things at once–but they haven’t fallen yet. I find that projects and papers tend to fit into the space you give them (obviously, you can’t quite take this to the extreme) so I end up being more productive when I’m busy.
Of course, I lose the ability to delve in those times. I also lose a lot of my creative drive for writing–whether it’s poetry, fiction, or blog posts. Ultimately, there’s a balance–those moments on the edge aren’t sustainable forever and I need some moments to be submersed in things as well. It’s actually creating that balance that seems to be the tricky part.