Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dessert First?

Every day I wake up in the morning and tell myself that TODAY is the day I am going to face grading the papers for my Rousseau class. I tell myself that if only I grade just FIVE of them, I will be so filled with relief at laying down the burden of my procrastination that I will be fired up all day with energy to deal with all my more fun tasks, like, well, writing. But every day, when I have this thought, I find that I can't even make myself get out of bed, let alone grade. So then I tell myself, okay, well, why don't you write for a little while first, and THEN you'll be so fired up with happy energy from writing that you will leap upon those Rousseau papers with delight. And yet, after I finish my writing, that isn't what happens at all. I do feel pleased with myself from writing, but find that I'm now so completely satisfied with what I've accomplished for the day that I have no need or desire to do anything else.

I sense that this might be a problem! But I'm not sure what to do about it. Part of me thinks that maybe it isn't a problem - after all, I'm getting done what I love best and what is most important to creating a flourishing life for myself. Many of my writer friends have the exact opposite problem: they dutifully do everything else first, and then find that they have no time and energy for what they love best. They fill themselves up on what they take to be their meal, and then have no room left for dessert. I have dessert first, justifying this with the thought that in my case, dessert really IS my meal. Writing IS my chief source of nutrition. It's where I get my emotional and spiritual vitamins and minerals.

And yet, those papers still need to be graded. And I do think that if I ever COULD force myself to leap out of bed and do them, I WOULD have that light, airy feeling for the rest of the day.

Luckily, I absolutely have to get the papers back to my students tomorrow. I have no choice. The lack of any choice is also a powerful motivator. So I did force myself to get through TEN of them this afternoon, and tomorrow morning I'll get up, not at 5, or at 4, but at 3:30, and I'll finish the rest. And then I'll feel light and airy for the rest of my life. Or at least until the next set of papers is due.

With any luck, by 9:00 tomorrow morning, I'll have papers graded AND a happy week of writing behind me - dessert/vitamins/minerals AND an obligation crossed off my list. In that order.

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