Thursday, October 27, 2011


I feel bad: not the weepy, remorseful, sickened, self-loathing sort of bad (though the Phantom get-up may give that impression). It's fairly mild, but present nonetheless so I'm writing about it.
I hope this makes sense as I divulge an explanation.
The reason for the feeling is that I have left some things undone. I have a tendency to focus on the here and now far too much, and anything remote or quiet or non-demanding gets shoved aside, even when I care about it. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about, but deal with the tendency in a much better way.
I just checked my Yahoo mail. I had 136 unread emails. Talk about neglect. There were letters from friends and loved ones, loving notes from my mom and a letter from my sister who is in the MTC. I think I should probably close that account and have you all change to my gmail address, which I check nearly every day.
Along those same lines comes this lesson:
I had to go talk with my Calculus professor. He's an awesome guy, very cheerful, knowledgeable, approachable, and down-to-earth. Here's the situation: his class has no deadlines for homework. It's up to you to tackle class material in preparation for class discussion and exams. So there is no deadline to drive you to act; it's up to you to learn.
I like that, and at the same time, it's hard. My academic history has taught me to focus on the things that require work with deadlines attached. I hate that, but it's the hard reality. If I don't have a deadline, I let a task float in the back of my mind and bother me, not to the point of action, just a constant hum of mental nagging, "you really should get that done". Then I swat the idea away, as if it were a mosquito buzzing in my ear, and move on, working away to meet a deadline for something else.
Does anyone else see the flaw?
My instructor pointed it out for me:
Some of the most important things in life do not come with deadlines.
For example, children don't come with deadlines. There is no deadline saying that "by ____ date, by 6:00pm, you need to have taught your child the importance of honesty". Does that mean that your child will go through life never learning that important lesson? Let's hope not.
We have to learn how to prioritize those things without deadlines so that we devote ample time in their direction because they are important to us. Deadlines help us accomplish things and society wouldn't be driven to the level of efficiency that it maintains without that structure, but time-management requires some personal decisions and some real balancing and prioritizing.
For me, that means that I need to spend at least 6 (probably more, but I know that's not gonna happen) hours on Calculus each week. It also means that I should plan out times to take care of other important things, like talking to the people I care about, even if they live hundreds of miles away and I don't have to have it done by a certain time.
Has it taken me this long to realize this principle? No, it's a fairly simple fact. It has taken some real experience though for it to sink in and stick.
That being said, I'm excited about life. It's my favorite time of year right now (despite the Rexburg chill) and this weekend is sure to be filled with fun adventures. Halloween is Monday and I'll be writing about it soon-ish thereafter. (The picture above is a preview of coming distractions)
If I neglected your email, I'm really sorry. There's no valid excuse. The truth is that I let deadlines suck my attention away from things I care about. Let's hope that by the end of the semester I have satisfactory grades to end all deadlines pertaining to this school and come home for some quality time with you.

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