It’s been a long minute since I’ve taken the time to truly think about my goals. For over a year, my life has consisted of headbutting deadlines vying for my attention–child interview report due Monday, grade data analysis due Tuesday, dishes in the sink reaching critical mass and are those leftovers suddenly living?–so much so that it’s seemed like my standard state of mind has been stuck on survival.
You can’t really make progress toward long-term goals if you don’t take time to think about what those goals are, and today I’m determined to do this at least once before my students return, grad school begins again, and I feel stuck in survival mode once more.
A few weeks ago I came across Investing in Futures, “a project which helps you imagine future worlds (wild, impractical, idyllic, and utopian) and what it would be like to live in them.” As a writer, I immediately latched onto the idea and became a backer.
Then they sent out a digital copy for playtesting. And, of course, I eagerly played.
So here’s my thoughts and findings. Will you, too, invest in futures?
Today was a day. Literally my first step out the door I slipped on black ice and gave myself a possible slight concussion. So knowing I’m gonna be woken up throughout the night (because comas) while I plan for precalculus and wonder just how long I can put off grading those related rates calculus quizzes, I figured I might as well write a bit.
Because I had an amazing idea in the elevator this morning!
It’s no surprise, dear reader, that I’m a busy man: not only am I plowing through my first year of teaching (and all the lesson-planning, classroom-managing, relationship-building chaos that comes with that) I’m also attempting to balance being a grad student and still having something of a personal life (filled with a new relationship and lots of Pokemon).
It’s more than I can say in one breath, that’s for sure.
So comes NaNoWriMo. That one month a year I’ve pledged to the author inside to make writing my number one priority. Except lately I can’t even write for my blog.
Writing is like meditation, and perhaps like any of the great monks, I can usually find my words anywhere. (Except of late—my words have come to my mouth like thick tar, and what I want to say is never what ends up congealed on the page.)
It’s a bit of a cliche to say I’ve written in coffee shops and libraries, but I have. I’ve also penned my words in more exotic places–in the middle of an open field, on the perimeter of a cafeteria while I ate my lunch, in bed at a hostel in Puebla, Mexico.
Some of these posts have made the front page. Others still haven’t been published. It’s an interesting discussion, the importance of inspiration and place, the interplay of ideas and space, but it’s a little bland if I boil it down. Is it easier to hit publish when I’m sitting at my desk or is it the risk assessment of my content that decides whether I share it with the world or let it steep in my saved drafts?
I like publishing complete thoughts, but not all conversations have a tangible end. My love affair with math. The state of racism and my place as a white man within it. Remarks on LGBT issues that I just ran out of time to proofread. Tangents and ramblings. All these things lie in wait. Perhaps someday I’ll gather the courage to share the incomplete.
So sometimes I write in strange places. I let the words roll down, simmer and swirl. Sometimes they form fruit and fall. Other times they wither in the bud.
Yesterday I began sharing the thirteen things I learned in 2013–a look at thankfulness, thinking, and things, with the great revelation that things don’t matter. Today I pick up the narrative once more for the next five lessons on our syllabus.
It’s hard to believe this year was, in fact, no longer than last year–it just felt that way. The journey I’ve taken from January 1, 2013, to today has been among the most adventurous I’ve ever had–blessed with confusion and clarity, strewn across two continents, and featuring my life-long highest and lowest points, it’s certainly been anything but expected.
And yet I’ve survived and stand here today a changed man. I’ve learned a lot along the way–a lot more than algebra and analysis, conservation and creative writing, policies and politics–things that fill me with more wisdom than Zelda with her Triforce piece (I’ve been playing again lately), and as my last act of 2013, I want to share these lessons with you.
Some days ago, amid all this hubbub over Chick-Fil-A, I came across a short but sweet post written by blogger Gwynn Compton asking, “What helps you write?” I thought it would make for a brilliant distraction form my typical Tuesday talks–because, without any inspiration to write, there’s no amount of writing advice that’ll help your words shine.
So with a great letter of thanks to Gwynn, here’s what helps me write–a few items that may in turn help you to write, too.
The day begins and I’m half-asleep and the half that’s awake would really like to roll over again and just go back to sleep. In the afternoon my feet ache and my throat’s sore from saying the same thing over and over again to a hundred different people–I could do this with my eyes closed, I tell them, and it’s true–and my eyes drift toward my closed iPad, longing for its internal delights–or that it might morph into a pillow for a quick nap.