Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spring Break**

Spring break. The term means different things to different people. Many associate it with the drunken debauchery of the collegiate rite of passage. Others may wax philosophical about their past forays into the same passage of days gone by. For still others, when the timing is right, it is the Easter break. For me it has been all of these and more. What this break in the spring semester of school means to me today is… nothing, really.

Ok, perhaps not nothing, however, it is more a milestone – a signifier actually - than an event. At Sac State, the annual spring recess has been traditionally linked with Easter, either the week before or the week after. It has not been called “Easter Break” in quite some time (First Amendment complications), but it “coincidentally” happened to occur at the same time. This year and in subsequent years, the break will only coincide with Easter if Easter happens to be when spring break is – halfway through the semester. With a late Easter this year, it’s not even close.

My purpose here is not to take issue with the nomenclature or timing of this “holiday,” but rather to reflect on what this means in my life. This is not the entirely unique, but unusual perspective of spring break occurring in the life of a 43 year-old university junior. It is not about partying in Cancun; it is not about wondering what to do with my kids while they’re on vacation; and it is not about taking a well-deserved break from the hectic life of a college junior, 43 years old or otherwise. It is actually something far more profound and unmatched in its simplicity.
On my way home from school today, I called my parents and talked to my Dad for a few minutes. Spring break kind of caught me by surprise (I only realized it was upon us earlier this week) and I said that I would be off school next week – I had not bothered to mention it before. He responded by asking what I would do with my time, suggesting, “do some catching up?” I said, “Ya, I guess, but I don’t really have anything to catch up on.” And that’s when it hit me.

I don’t really have anything to catch up on. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. I’m still shocked. I can’t remember ever feeling this free. It brings a whole new meaning to the term “free time!” I don’t even have to do any laundry for at least a couple of days! Oh sure, there are some things that I have been wanting to do when I had the time, but they’re certainly not priorities – I would have done them if they were. And I may or may not get to them. The point here is that I have never been more stress-free – and that sort of stresses me out.

I’m used to being under pressure. Sometimes to do something, sometimes to stop doing something, but I have always felt like there was something hanging over my head – and there usually was. I used to say that I did my best work under pressure. Although there is an element of truth in that statement, most of the time the crunch I put on myself due to procrastination was not of the performance enhancing variety. The reasons for my procrastination are numerous and will not be examined here, but the relief from constantly waiting until the last minute cannot be understated.

There are, I think, a couple of observations that need to be noted. First and foremost is that I don’t have anything pending because I have been getting to what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Sure, procrastination appeared at different times, but not to the extent that everything got into a logjam. That is why I am so utterly free right now. How this happened is somewhat more complicated, but for the sake of simplicity, the second observation is telling.

Spring break and the concurring semester’s halfway point snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention. Why? Perhaps because my attention was focused on what was ahead of me. Immediately ahead of me – like today, right now. I have not been looking very far into the future because most of what I have to do today is occurring today. There are some things that take longer to accomplish, but even they can be broken down into one-day-at-a-time pieces. And that’s what I do – today. My goals are set daily and achieved daily and before I know it, the semester is halfway done and I don’t have anything pending.

Everything that I am trying to achieve, no matter how lofty (and getting loftier all the time) happens at exactly the same rate – one day at a time. Everything I want to do in my life can happen if I do the footwork required on a daily basis. Nothing, absolutely nothing that any one day can require of me is beyond my capabilities. If my focus is on a week, a month, a year or five years from now, there is no way I can do all that. It’s too much, but today, just today, I can handle it.

**I don't know any of these people, they're just some pics I unashamedly borrowed from the Web.


Ellen said...

Sometimes I'm not sure what's worse... not having anything to do, or being so busy and not having enough time to do it all.
It's not that I get stressed, but I do get anxious, and wish that I was Samantha of Bewitched... just twinkle my nose and voila', I'm at the beach!

neal said...

I wish I could say the same. Spring is a busy time for the Ross household. It isn't so much the date on the calendar that Spring occurs as much as it is the change in weather conditions.

Both my wife and I are avid garedeners. My wife prefers roses and other ornamental plants that grace our yard. I grow bonsai. I won't go into any long detailed description of what bonsai is about, it is enough to say that every so often they need to be repotted as any potted plant is. The difference is the timing. The deciduous trees need to be repotted when the buds begin to swell, but before the leaves actually break out. With this crazy weather some plants have already broken leaves. The bad thing about that is that I also need to wait until the last frost has passed.

So with the crazy weather fluctations we have been having, you could say that Spring this year has got me stressed. So I envy you. Care to trade places?

Saur♥Kraut said...

I love days where there's nothing that can't be put off. It was gorgeous here today, and I've been to the beach and back with my dogs... next I'm rustling up some people for cocktails and snacks on the beach overlooking the fun.

Helene said...

The top shot was me last week in Daytona Beach... Looking good huh! LOLOLOLOL... NOT!!!

Enjoy this time and savor it as it too shall come to an end soon. Graduation is what one year away! lol. Good for you for doing this all at 43. Taking the risk and taking on the challenge.

I hate having nothing to tend to and really I think that bordom is part of my real problem these days. I need to get crackin with work and stop being so freaking lazy!

Have a good weekend!! And Happy Spring Break!!

Bar L. said...

I have a good balance in my life as far as busy/not busy, the problem is more isolating myself and being alone during the times I have little to do.

Looking forward to reading your post during this time you have off :)

Snaggle Tooth said...

"Nothing Needed" days are my favs. Haven't had one in awhile tho...
Such a luxury! Lucky person you...
I've never had a spring break when I didn't need a 10 to 20 pager or exam on the following Monday back... (Umass Dartmouth, '92)

I heard ya got SNOW in San Diego this week- have fun!

WooleyBugger said...

Oh to visit California and see the nice sites like the one in that first picture.
Women are Gods gift to the artist are they not?
Deep breath and Sigh...