Wednesday, April 13, 2005
from a camel
So, you know that verse about a camel going through the eye of a needle? I know that I’m taking it wildly out of context, but I always think of that image during the end of a semester. And I would be the camel… looking at my list of essays, projects, and exams, and thinking: Yeah, right, like I can squeeze through there.
I’m one of those conscientious students. I like getting everything done, preferably early. And I’d like it to be done really really well.
That sounds very cool. But this time of year, it feels more like panic. How can one person get everything done at once? Double essays, honors work, a film analysis, a lab to create and report, portfolios, other essays… This is when Jenn starts pulling at her hair and feeling like a really large camel. I can’t fit my toe through that needle, let alone my head, hips, and shoulders…
This is the time of year when a lot of students feel like closing up shop. It’s about time to head home, time to kick back, but it’s also the time of the most (and most difficult) work. How on earth do you stay motivated through all of it?
This week, a student group is sponsoring “Simplicity Week.” Each day they focus on a different way to simplify life, like “Don’t-Drive-To-Class Day” or “Don’t-Buy-Anything-Today Day.” (I accidentally bought coffee on the don’t buy anything day. Oops. I mean, I meant to buy coffee, but I forgot I was supposed to simplify life. But I like coffee… I guess that’s simple enough for me.)
Earlier today as I was crossing campus, I saw a kite flying over commons lawn. The owner of the kite had hooked it up to a lamp post, and then sat down beneath it to study, or read, or something. He just sat, and everyone who walked by squinted up at the kite.
I don’t know… somehow I feel like he got everything just right. That’s how you manage deadlines and hectic schedules and the impending goodbyes. String the kite up, tug on it from time to time, and sit and study beneath in the sunshine.
I don’t have a kite, so for me, this translates to buying too much poetry, getting coffee (on the wrong days) and studying on my balcony in the sun. Good music helps… I’ve been listening to a Lizz Wright CD borrowed from a friend. Taking deep breaths is good. Long walks.
After staring at the kite for awhile, I went to find Dr. Rod Jellema’s book at the Calvin bookstore, and as I took it to the cashier, I realized that I had also grabbed a book of Czeslaw Milosz’s collected poems, which evidently wanted to come home with me. Maybe spending forty dollars on poetry isn’t a way to simplify life, but to sit and read them certainly is.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. How to navigate all this work and do it well, while staying sane and even cheerful… Probably one of those “life lessons” that will show up every four months or so until I’m all done with this place (meaning Earth, not just Calvin). Guess it’s good to learn it now. Kites and coffee, poetry and sunshine, with a little good music.
Or, as one of my sisters might say (to quote Finding Nemo‘s Dory), “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”