April tends to be the most stressful month of the year for people with academic positions, I think. Faculty and students start the spring semester already drained from the fall semester, and by April, we're facing end-of-the spring-semester madness, with so many events crammed into the calendar before we head toward finals in May. So in my trusty little notebook I usually make myself an extra-intense to-do list for this cruelest month.
This year I have an extra-cruel first half of April. I'm the person in charge of a major symposium the Prindle Institute is hosting on the ethics of communicating about climate change, with six prominent speakers coming to campus for three days of talks (Tuesday, April 9, to Thursday, April 11), two talks a day (one at 4:15 and one at 7) and other surrounding events (lunches, dinners, classes for the speakers to attend). And then the closing keynote for the climate change symposium is doubling as the opening keynote of our annual Undergraduate Ethics Symposium, which brings talented undergraduates from around the country (including some wonderful DePauw students as well) for a weekend of conversation about a wide range of ethical issues. I'm in charge of this symposium, too.
After that, the rest of my life will be easy.
But until then, I'm feeling, shall we say, a wee bit overwhelmed.
It isn't so much that I have heaps to do in preparation for both events, but that I have heaps to worry about. Will all the speakers get here? Will their talks be good? Will their talks be well attended? Will everybody on campus be thrilled with both events or will they have occasion to find fault with anything, and by extension, find fault with me?
Enough! Both events were planned over a period of many months with the input of a team of faculty from many different departments on campus. Both events will be organized with the assistance of Prindle's absolutely fabulous conference-planning team. It will all be okay. And if anything isn't okay? Well, that is okay, too.
So on my to-do list for the next two weeks, the main item is to engage in every stress-avoidance technique I know. Exercise. Don't overeat. Take care of niggling Loathsome Tasks (LTs) right away rather than letting dread fester. Get plenty of sleep. Make time for fun: luckily my sister will be spending the weekend with me, and I have all kinds of Indiana outings planned. Take deep breaths. And hold onto the thought of how great the rest of my post-mid-April life is going to be.