March 3, 2011

Why I do it

I'm sitting here in the teacher's English room, surrounded by test papers from last semester, a long list of to-does in my email box, and thoughts about the class I just taught - Critical Thinking Skills.  One of my main issues is time management these days - as in - how can I manage the little time I do have?  I have a nearly full-time job, two kids, a private practice, a few good friends and I'm studying Dutch. Doing all this keeps me fairly busy. Naturally, in between, there's a few personal matters such as the yearly income tax report, figuring out my pension possibilities (for the very very very very far future), and these mildly annoying chores also take up my time. And I wonder - what about the art I used to love to do? What about Zumba or any other form of exercise other than running up and down the stairs at school or from the bus to the HvA? What about sitting down with a good book? What about just relaxing in front of the TV for a few hours? Why do I work so hard, in what is not the highest paid profession while I could be doing something more lucrative with my MBA?
And even within my own given structure - of work etc, why do I make my own life so difficult sometimes by teaching new courses each semester, by answering emails with care, by nurturing relationships and beginning new projects? Why can't I just leave well enough alone?
The simple answer is: Making my life 'complicated' makes me happy. New challenges help me to wake up with joy and curiosity each morning. Interactions with people - yes, this includes the class discussions - make me feel alive and excited. When I encounter students who are willing to be 'woken up', who are willing to learn, to engage in their studies, then I feel my day has not been futile. When I have moments in class when there is silence (and not because students are asleep, but because they are listening with interest), then I think perhaps I have something to offer. And when there is a lot of noise, and excited discussion about the topic we're talking about in class, I am satisfied that I have enabled the space to let this happen. I let my life be complicated by constantly reviewing what I'm doing, by reflecting, by investigating, checking and renewing. However, this means that when I want some quiet time, I really need to force myself to 'shut down' all the analytical processes and to let go. It's not always easy for me to do this, and at times I fear I'm being too easy on myself if I take any 'time out' at all.
But at the end of the day, I do what I do, because it makes me happy.
What about you?


  1. You know, today I read in the Maarten that happiness does not depend on wealth (as long as you are not poor), but on yes/no undertaking activities that are interesting and useful. Blessed are the people who can do that in their job.

  2. Seems to me that the wealthiest people are fairly miserable, which doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to have 'enough' (how much is enough?)... Look at Charlie Sheen with his drug and drink addiction... However, we shouldn't underestimate all the poor people in the world who are struggling to feed their families. Another thing that can make us happy is sharing what we do have with those less fortunate.