Thursday, August 07, 2008

Confessions of a lazy man pt. 356

Over the years, I've heard different people expound on what the "real" value of college is. I once had a co-worker who believed that the ancillary responsibilities of college — signing up for courses, writing checks to the bursar, showing up for class, etc. — were more important than what actually went on in the classroom. They taught you, so he said, how to pay your bills, follow a schedule and generally keep up on the operational aspects of life — important skills, certainly. (Cue Woody Allen quote.)

In the classroom, I often lamented how the usual mixed load of 15 credit hours per semester lent a hurried feeling to learning, forcing students to juggle multiple tasks under pressure and time constraints and, alas, not allow them to truly sink into a subject and get the full experience. Just try to remember your college classes (if you went to college) and the books you had to read. I took a senior-level course on the Metaphysical Poets, and I only have (had) a cursory knowledge of them. To learn more, I would have to do it on my own. (Cue Frank Zappa quote.)

I've come to a point in my life where I either wish I had more time in the day to devote to things or I wish I could clone myself to do a more thorough job of the many tasks pulling at me. I don't know if this feeling is associated with a particular time in/part of a person's life, as if on a schedule itself, so I'll refrain from making blanket statements in that vein. But I will say this feeling markedly increased when Erika, Suzi and I bought the house.

If Erika is reading this, she's probably laughing right now, as I opted to lie on the couch and read Monday night instead of helping to install the pot and pan rack like we planned. (See, this is where the clones would come in.)

There's that old quote — forget it, I've tried searching — about people being able to only have one true "passion" in life, at least as far as occupations/hobbies go. That might mean you only have so much time and energy to go whole-hog on one task. A part of me really wants to be a compost mixing expert, or a plaster wall expert, or an insulation expert, or a gardening expert and especially a child expert, as a father. But you also need time to rest, relax, reconnoiture with loved ones and generally listen to your breathing, as the Buddhists say.


Now that Erika has caught her breath from laughing, I believe I've found the answer: (Mark,) make a to-do list week-to-week and (echoes of my old co-worker) stick to it. It begs that eternal question, "Could you have been doing something more productive during that hour of Frasier last night?"

One of those expecting fatherhood books I bought said that there are second chances in fatherhood (as well as third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. chances). So, too, I believe are there second chances in home repair, gardening, house painting, compost mixing, tree branch sawing, basement insulating, exhaust tube caulking ... Okay, take a breath. ... I won't (and can't) be an expert at all of these things, but the fact that I'm doing them at least opens my experience up a little further and makes our house and our life together better.

That's more than I can say for 100-level statistics.

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