Sunday, November 30, 2008

Busyness and Discipline

My work life is happy, these days. Even though I am still chair of my department (for this year and next year), and am also now the director of our new Peace Studies program, I am fine with all of this. Of course all of this makes my life very busy. Fortunately, however, I have not been busy in a stressed-out sort of way. It's nice to know that this is possible: that one can be busy in a happy sort of way.

Part of what has really helped this semester is the more rigorous discipline by which I have structured my life.

But, having said that, I have to confess that this has been unraveling lately. My running, for example, was interrupted by my coming down with a bad cold. Then, just as I recovered from that, Thanksgiving break came. You would think that break is a good time to pick up on running again, especially since, during break, I have the luxury of waiting until daylight breaks to run, which is far more pleasant during this cold time of year. But I still felt too daunted. Finally I decided to just give myself a break over break, and I plan to resume on Monday, when classes resume.

But, over break, I have returned to regular music practice on several of my instruments. This was something else that paused while I had a bad cold. Playing wind instruments is actually good to keep doing through a cold, but it's frustrating and difficult too, and so I'm afraid I let that drop too. Work had then also gotten especially busy. But I'm glad to be back into regular practice again now.

Anyway, discipline is key to managing a complex life. When you structure your life with practices that keep you healthy, spiritually centered, and in touch with a sense of the meaning of your life, everything else finds its proper place. You are not daunted by your busy life because (a) you are healthy enough to keep up with it without undue fatigue or risk of burnout, and (b) you are clear-sighted enough to remember how each task you must do fits into the overall meaning of your life.

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