Slightly Spontaneous

It is not that I must protect my time and project, with management and discipline — it is that I must allow my time and project to protect me.

My mother has been saying I was an organized person since before I started school. I never knew how she had seen this so soon, how she had made this finding with so little evidence, but it is true that I have an innate sense of order. At the same time I am a spontaneous type and I find that, except for certain kinds of projects, a general plan works better for me than micro-planning, which tends, paradoxically, to throw me off my general purpose and themes.

Still it is the beginning of the academic year and you can tell because I am reading blogs about getting organized. Do you write down a road map of how and when you will complete each task you have? Not as completely as some, I would say, and I find this post a better argument for why you should write up your research results (get them out of your head and onto paper, so you can make room for the next set of ideas that will build on those) than why you should make a specific road map for when.

My road maps, unless they are for a very specific project, not for a whole month or semester, are typically too disciplined and too ambitious, too detailed. One may say I simply do not know how to make these well enough, but a general schedule and calendar serve me well if, within their lines, I allow myself to take the path I wake up with in the morning (or that I decided upon only the night before).

My theme for this year is to expand work time. How to do it: reduce “service,” reduce time spent on second guessing and doubt, stand in my own authority, reduce time spent negotiating unnecessary compromises and deferring my own projects to those of others. What to do with research time will take care of itself — I know what the projects are and when the deadlines are, and the work will divide itself into parts as I go. That kind of organization is not the issue for me. The issue is, I  question of being immersed in research mode primarily, even as I tend other gardens. This, in turn, causes the rest of life to take care of itself.

A difference I have with much standard advice on how to “do” academics is on the recommendations for time-budgeting: plan your time, set an alarm clock and force out 250 words in 25 minutes, and so on. I have always done some of that, albeit without the alarm clock, and I do like to keep some regular, if slightly flexible work hours. But it is not a greater hurry or an increased sense of discipline I need — I am fast and organized by nature, as my mother pointed out. People also tell me I have a much more energy than the average person, and very great power of will. So it is not these things I need to increase. What I need is time to relax into, to sink down in without transition, to come home to, as the air of my book project thickens around me and protects me wherever I go.

Do you see? It is not that I must protect my time and project, with management and discipline — it is that I must allow my time and project to protect me.

Axé.

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13 Comments

Filed under Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

13 responses to “Slightly Spontaneous

  1. carlos

    That’s an excellent idea “allow your time and project to protect you”. Having said that I must also say Z that you go on and on and on day and night. Does your brain have any time to relax, just going white, “blanch”, whatever… I do not mean to be intrusive Z, not at all!

  2. Z

    Hahaha, yes, I do think a lot. It just means I am changing fast and also that I am trying to get some fleeting ideas down, so I can refer to them. But I *love* to just space out, let my mind float.

  3. carlos

    “I do think a lot”… yes, i can see that. The question I have is whether you have any time and space “to feel a lot” as well.

    • Z

      Oh, that ridiculous distinction. I have heard it all my life — if you think, you cannot feel, you must be cold if you are capable of being practical, on and on, usually from really heartless people with no depth of of their own, just a lot of histrionics.

      • Thinking and feeling go together. Of course for many people, the only strong feeling they have is anger!

      • carlos

        Nobody is disputing ( at least I was not and am not) that thinkers don’t feel and feelers don’t think. Indeed, we know that the brain is an integrated system and yet there is a distinct space-temporal distribution and localization for thoughts and emotions. Nothing new under the sun.

        I respect whatever personal process you’re going through and hope that you get successfully to the stage you’d like most to be. However, I find that your response had assumed thoughts that I did not entertain. On the contrary, mine intended to be a friendly expression of support for your, not uncommon, struggle. I must confess that I felt hurt by your reaction.

        Best,

        Carlos

  4. carlos

    Thanks for the explanation. Your response makes very little sense to me. That’s no surprise ’cause we are all different.

    • Z

      You are evidently in the thrall of a cliché often repeated in popular culture, that if one thinks one cannot have access to feeling.

      Or you are asking whether I ever rest. I do, although perhaps not enough; the goal of the blog is to put me in a position to do so.

  5. Z

    And — I don’t feel I owe this to anyone, and I am bored writing it, but once again, everyone, the blog is about processing feelings, as I am sure you must have noticed. I actually want to become *more* and not less cerebral. In my experience this hardly precludes the rest of life, although I realize current “common sense” thinks it does. What I find is, making an effort to be more shallow in one area of life, as I have always been told to do (be less intellectually oriented) makes it difficult to access any sort of depth in other areas of life as well.

    I am tired of justifying my intellectual orientation, reassuring people that yes, I have feelings too and I go to the beach and stare out at the horizon thoughtlessly for more time per day than they probably do, and on, and on. Having seriously considered the possibility that I was too smart, and that I should give it up for health, is what ruined my life and I want it back; that is what this blog is about.

    I also find it interesting that it is intelligence in women that is questioned, the validity of it is questioned, and it is assumed it is an impairment to living. And I am tired of explaining to people that this head vs. heart issue is some 18th century Western cultural artifact, not necessarily true scientifically and certainly not universal.

    Yes, I would like to write less, yes, I would like to write other things more, yes, that is my goal, but those other things will be cerebral and artistic things and political things, not magazine-like things as this blog is, so I will be “thinking” even more than now.

    Part of why I scribble so much has to do with Reeducation — you had to write and write, all these confessions and self analyses so as to transform your self-image into that of a Reeducand. When I started, I was worried that it would suck up my research time, and it did but mostly it sucked up my research IDENTITY and my research MIND. I take notes in this blog to get those things back, and I reapeat: when I am quiet here I might be meditating, or kayaking, or having sex, but I also might be writing a major intellectual treatise, and whichever activity it is, it is deeper than histrionics and smarter than this blog, guaranteed.

  6. Z

    And — again not because I owe an answer, but because I want to practice giving one — yes, I post a lot, and it is to remind myself of certain things a lot, or refine certain ideas bit by bit, or let them take root. This is what I have the blog for.

  7. Z

    “Thinking and feeling go together. Of course for many people, the only strong feeling they have is anger!”

    Of course I think what Carlos really means is, am I ever not having new realizations or trying to get at the heart of some problem; the answer is no, not for long, because I am like that; I would rather put it into other things than into refuting the weird ideas of my old shrink, though, which is what I started the blog to do.

    YES, thinking and feeling go together, thank you! :-)

    The only strong feeling many people have is anger, really? Hm, I will have to think about that, make some observations.

    My most common feeling is amazement. That what has happened, has actually happened; that what I see, is real and I really see it. Everything seems so singular to me, each event and person so interestingly quirky.

  8. Z

    “Nobody is disputing ( at least I was not and am not) that thinkers don’t feel and feelers don’t think. Indeed, we know that the brain is an integrated system and yet there is a distinct space-temporal distribution and localization for thoughts and emotions. Nothing new under the sun.

    “I respect whatever personal process you’re going through and hope that you get successfully to the stage you’d like most to be. However, I find that your response had assumed thoughts that I did not entertain. On the contrary, mine intended to be a friendly expression of support for your, not uncommon, struggle. I must confess that I felt hurt by your reaction.

    “Best,
    “Carlos”

    Hey Carlos, I didn’t mean to snap your head off … I am sorry! I just react to that thinking-feeling thing because I have heard it too many times. And I *do* realize what you really meant … something more like, do I ever rest (a fair question, and a good reminder).

    Best,
    Z

  9. Pingback: Expanding | crow scratchings

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