Posted by: M.C. | 13 February 2010

Goose egg days

Earlier this week, I had one of those days I dread, where the hours slip by and nothing I do seems to move me toward accomplishing anything. On my flash drive sits a set of papers to be graded, a week’s worth of class sessions to be planned, emails to reply to. I open one of the paper, begin reading, but by the time I get to the end of the first paragraph, I find that I have moved the mouse down to the “games” folder and clicked on “Freecell.”

Half an hour later, I pull myself from my stupor and tell myself, “You have to stop. You have work to do. Just close the game window. Just get through these one at a time. Try for four papers graded in the next hour. You can do that; it’s giving yourself 15 minutes a paper. You can do that.”

Somehow I slog my way through the essay, dropping in comments, marking the successes and the problems, and tabulate the score. I feel good; I’ve actually managed to get one thing done. “I should celebrate,” I tell myself. “Just one game, then I’ll push through some more.”

Forty-five minutes later, I rouse myself and say, “What are you doing? You’ve blown your momentum. You have to get back to it now.” But I don’t. When I win one game, instead of closing the game window, I click on “new game.” I pass, it seems–no, it is, the afternoon this way. By the time I gather my things to go home, I have a sickly feeling, as though I’ve had too much to drink or I’ve slept too long.

I’ve realized that I don’t need to climb a mountain each day; I don’t need to conquer the world or plow through mounds of activity. If I can just avoid these goose egg days, if I can manage to get something done, the work will add up. Life is more about the small accumulation of everyday actions than it is about grand gestures of monumental achievements. It’s about something and something and just a little bit more.

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