Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much Fun

I have decided that I have a strange problem in my life right now: I am having too much fun.

This is not a problem I expected to have during my year at DePauw. I expected that I would be having long days to do nothing but read, write, think, and grow as a children's book author and philosopher. What could there be to do at this small liberal arts college, where I'm teaching, yes, ONE COURSE a semester, to distract me from serious intellectual and creative toil? I envisioned leisurely hours out at the peaceful Prindle Institute where I would scribble/type away on philosophical articles, children's literature articles, children's books, and my brilliant memoir.

This hasn't happened.

Instead, every hour seems to be filled with the intense activities of this extraordinarily alive academic community. I am in five reading groups (one of which I'm leading). The Prindle Institute for Ethics alone has several events every week (there are even two competing events tonight). So far this week, I've attended a screening of the documentary Dark Days, about a community of the homeless living under the Amtrak tracks in New York City, a talk given by a Fulbright scholar who founded an NGO in El Salvador, and the meeting for my reading group on the ethics of life writing; tonight is a poetry reading by a Salvadoran poet; tomorrow is a talk on "Demystifying Cuba" as well as a reading group on Bound by Recognition by Patchen Markell. I'm getting involved as a speaker and writer-in-residence at Greencastle's three elementary schools. Bill Clinton is speaking on campus on Friday. I have tickets for La Boheme at Indiana University in Bloomington on Saturday. The theater department is staging Hedda Gabler this weekend, too.

All I do is have fun! And part of my job just IS to have fun. Part of what is required for there to be a thriving academic community is for faculty to support events by their attendance. Outreach to the community is part of my job, too. Can I help it if so many of my professional duties happen to be pleasurable?

But still. I can't sustain this pace indefinitely. Sooner or later I need to focus my thoughts on my next book, or on a major article, or something I can write down on my monthly list of accomplishments.

Right now, my main accomplishment for November is "I had fun." I did write one important book review and one short article; I did give a talk at Arts Fest here on campus and organize another Arts Fest event; and I did conclude my ethics-of-life writing reading group. And I taught my Rousseau class. But I mainly had fun. And that is good for a while. It's hard to argue with the claim that fun is good. So I'll have fun for a little while longer. But then I'm going to buckle down.

Really. I am.

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