Sunday, September 2, 2012


September 2, 2012

I took stock of my life the other day.  With a birthday coming along in a few weeks and a long summer behind me, I thought it worth the effort.  As I looked around, I noticed my yard had gone feral.  My house provides natural habitats for a majority of the spiders found in Texas, if the number and variety of cobwebs inside my house provides any evidence.  I've added a couple of pounds since graduation.  I'm teaching two sections of a course I haven't taught since the semester Davis was born, and I have an iron or two (or a dozen) in the fire of what Walter calls my unpaid work.

I took the mulling time offered by my morning dog walk to consider what to do with my life going forward.  I had three big thoughts:

  1. Work harder to separate work from leisure.  For me that means, focusing and not getting distracted when I'm working (pretty easy) AND turning work off at the end of the day and focusing just as hard and just as intentionally on downtime.
  2. Work on simplifying and adopting routines that I can sustain.  This means, for example, that I attempt to up my trips to the gym from twice a week to thrice a week NOT to promise myself I'll workout every day.
  3. Work on a balanced life.  I started doing the math here.  
    • First and most importantly, 8 (or even 9) hours of sleep each night.
    • Then no more than 8 hours of work (except if I have a grading deadline) each day.
    • Followed by 8 hours of health-and-home maintenance and upkeep (weeding, dusting, organizing, cooking healthy, and so on) each day.
    • Topped off by 8 hours of personal leisure and self and relationship enhancement.
I'm not sure what I was thinking with #3, but by the time I got home I was really happy and confident about how easy it was going to be to get everything important done and maintain a balanced life.  I was also wondering, just a little, what I had been doing to waste so much time these last thirty years (and by the way, I know what I was doing to waste time the first 21). 

Anyway, a woman doesn't give birth to a PhD student in mathematics without having some facility with numbers, so as you have already guessed, I figured out that I had either made an arithmetic error or a scientific one (imagining that I lived on planet Umbrathos, that has a 32 hour day).  This discovery led me to two more important thoughts.  I should:

  1. Get my friends and family to buy me longer days for my upcoming birthday.  I wonder if you can get gift cards with extra hours? or
  2. I should have grabbed the magic wish fish when I had the chance.  As Walter rowed up to dock the boat yesterday, a bass as big as Teddy hopped right in the rowboat and flopped fin-slappingly around.  Walter, always the poised boatsman, shipped his oars, stood up (I know, you're thinking "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!", grabbed the fish in both hands, and tossed it back in the lake.  If I had only had the presence of mind to have him ask for his three wishes before the rescue. . .

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