As an online instructor of writing, I sometimes have the distinct desire to reach through the computer screen, grab a student by the scruff, and shake, shouting, “ENGAGE!”
This usually happens when I get an e-mail to the tune of: “I don’t really know what to write about…my life is pretty boring…there’s nothing I’m really interested in….”
My problem though, is that there’s very little I’m not interested in, and as a consequence of being a generalist, I’m probably overly engaged, overly interested, spread a little thin.
Lately, with my neck injury (and I’m proud to report I’ve had almost no pain today as I graded 40+ essays), I’ve been re-evaluating my “total engagement strategy” and realizing that I need to pull back a bit and pick my battles. Or, better: my “engagements.”
(I, too, am tired of the constant war metaphors in language, as I am of the constant wars.)
This is the time of year for it. Autumn is a time of reflection, of tying up loose ends, of cleaning up and clearing out in order to lay in the winter’s supplies. I spent last evening, after H. installed a frame under the bed that raised our sleeping elevation over a foot, wiping down walls and wiping up floors and generally getting the dust and dog hair and clutter out of that room.
When I finished, I thought how nice it would be to do the same thing to the entire house (though perhaps after the final canning of the season has been cooled and shelved).
I think the same strategy I used in dusting the pictures and knickknacks on the dresser and the nightstand ought to apply to all of the projects and commitments I’ve taken on in the last couple of years–take them down, dust them off, and decide whether they ought to stay or go.