Late-Night Musings: Reading, Writing, Teaching, Living

I forgot that I needed this as a place to make sense of ideas and thoughts. Being at OU for three weeks as both teacher and student, I am overwhelmed by the sea of ideas in which my mind is swimming.

Foucault has a quote drawing on Seneca that I read in an essay by David Bartholomae:

Through the interplay of selected readings and assimilative writing, one should be able to form an identity through which a whole spiritual genealogy can be read. In a chorus there are tenor, bass, and baritone voices, men’s and women’s tones: “The voices of the individual singers are hidden; what we hear is the voices of all together…I would have my mind of such a quality as this; it should be equipped with many arts, many precepts, and patterns of conduct taken from many epochs of history; but all should blend harmoniously into one.”

I love this quote because for me, reading, writing, teaching, and living are things that are inextricably linked. For the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about how I’m here to read in order to learn how to write better in order to learn how to teach better in order to live more honestly. And those words–read, write, teach, and live–can be shuffled and that sentence still makes sense to me.

I wonder if we can add to Foucault by saying something like: “Through the interplay of selected readings and assimilative writing” as well as interesting friends, families, coworkers, teachers, and students, “one should be able to form an identity through which a whole spiritual genealogy can be read.”

And so, that is to say, I think it’s time to start using this blog again as a place to polish ideas and thoughts, hopefully with your help, to become a better teacher, writer, reader, thinker, and human being. I can’t promise there will be any regularity to my posts or even that they will be anything more than self-indulgent musings, but I’m going to start using this place as a way to publicly upload things I’m thinking about. So thanks for indulging me.

Lost Time

I spent my entire Saturday afternoon and evening watching the last seven or eight episodes of Lost. I love Lost. I would probably write a blog post about it, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone because I think it is that sacred. But anyway, I spent roughly ten hours watching the end of Lost. And I’m not about to say that it was a waste of time because it wasn’t. That television show is part of the reason I began to reconsider my faith, but I have this horrible feeling that my Saturday could have been better spent.

I don’t think I am quite alone in this. I live in a college town. I go to school. Most of my friends are my age and in school and almost everyone has the same problem. We are binge responsible. There’s this lie out there that we can be good stewards of our time only four or five days out of the week, and we will still be successful.

I think this lie comes from years of dishonoring good stewards. People who manage their time well are rare specimen. They don’t come around very often, but when they do, the rest of us try to bring them back into the muck that is the rest of the world. “Why don’t you come out with us?” we ask them. “Why don’t you watch television?” “You don’t take enough time for yourself.” “You should do something fun.” The really good steward of time, though, doesn’t need to go out because she likes the work she does and finds it fun.  But peer pressure is a strong thing. And so instead of admiring and emulating these rare stewards, we make them more like us.

Being a good steward of your time means doing it seven days of the week, 52 weeks a year. The train of life doesn’t stop moving, and every time we jump off after one of our binge responsibility periods, we are missing out on achieving the things we want to do. This doesn’t mean that we all have to be corporately or politically successful or some such thing.

In the nonprofit sector, organizations are advised to pick one mission statement, even if they want to do a lot of other things. Then, if something needs to be cut, they know that they can go after the things that aren’t directly related to their mission statement. I think we should treat our lives similarly. We should pick one, two, maybe three things that we are really passionate about, and then we should pursue them seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. And then we can start using our time, even our free time, in such a way to bring us closer and closer to our goals.

Are you a good steward of time? What’s your secret?