Monday, April 24, 2017

Tarring one's boat

I follow Eugene Peterson on Twitter (a theologian who did an interesting "modern English" translation of the Bible, called The Message - I used to use that with the youth group kids because I found the kids who didn't know the Bible related better to it, and the kids who did often saw something new in his translation)

He posted something interesting the other day: "All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us."

And yes, I think that's true. But I have a lot of problems with not letting the world's troubles get "inside" me. Part of it is I think I take on other people's emotions or emotional work too much; part of it is I want other people to think highly of me and so "troubles" get to me.

I need to really work on re-tarring my own boat, so to speak. (As I understand it: some people used tar or something like creosote on small wooden boats to make them watertight, so water wouldn't get in through the seams. I might be wrong on this; I have little experience with boats).

I find that time alone, doing what I want, helps - I was happy and content this weekend working on my quilts, or knitting, or playing the piano. But I came in this morning and *BANG*:

phone call from the scholarship office, apparently I gave the wrong person as the contact person in the letter I sent out. I haven't called them back but I am bracing for someone to be upset with me because that's often how these things work

e-mail from a student asking for a change in their presentation time which isn't easily doable

e-mail from another student about an "emergency."

e-mail from the campus budget dude saying we might see a 20% cut in state appropriations next year - which I can't see how we can weather that without RIFfing some tenured profs; we are running as lean as we can without either pay cuts or laying off essential people. 

And of course, all the workday stuff: meetings and recommendation letters to write and the Tetris-figuring-out of when I get grading done and all of that. 

And I get home later than normal today (not even going to try working out; I did yesterday, I will the rest of this week) because it's the Faculty Appreciation Hour (!) and this is when awards are given out, and I've been nominated for one. I still suspect I won't win it, but you have to go anyway so it looks better if you do.  

But that Peterson quotation has me thinking: how do I learn to do that, to be more buoyant and to get better at being less-permeable? I think that's the only way I can survive. I seem to have been less-permeable at one time....I don't know what has changed. Maybe I need to take more time to myself to do things like quilt, to get my head out of my job more? I don't know. 

Maybe the "not letting the world's troubles inside you" is the real secret - maybe that's how Dr. Pryce managed to whistle and swing his briefcase as he walked to work every day. 

I wish I could learn that.

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