If You Were Stuck In Quicksand…

A couple weeks ago, the basic training for my school began.

I had gone through this training a year before, but this year I volunteered to work.  I wanted to help people grow and get good things out of the experience.  Someone had trained me who I respected for being firm but kind in the midst of other wild and messy training styles— I wanted to pass that on to the next group of incoming people, or candidates.  I hadn’t exactly enjoyed my time in this training, but I had grown through it.

On the first day, when I heard candidates yelling responses to officers, I immediately felt a pit open up in my stomach.  Why am I here?   Why am I a part of something that obviously causes so much distress?  This isn’t me.

I had volunteered for this, so I would do the work.  Everyone else could yell and be mean.  I’d yell, but only so far as it kept them moving, kept them learning, and got them closer to the point where I didn’t have to yell.  As things went on, I began to realize a couple things.  One, they were only yelling because they were doing the best they could.  They weren’t used to it, and when you yell without planning to it sounds like a scream.  Two, they were distressed, yes, but with so many people around showing them where to go, that didn’t matter.  Even if they tried to make the wrong turn, we could point them in the right direction.  We’d point loudly, but we’d still point.

Three, they were learning.  They were learning fast.  It was like drinking from a fire hose— too much knowledge and protocol to digest all at once.  They got what they could, tried again if they messed it up, and learned to tune out the yelling around them and yell louder.

Wouldn’t it be better, you might ask, to just sit them down, calmly explain all of this, and let them figure it out step by step before throwing them into this mayhem?  Why so much conflict?

A couple days into training, I realized something as I was reading a book.  Especially those first few days, I had mistaken conflict for evil. Continue reading “If You Were Stuck In Quicksand…”

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Momentum

I am enthusiastic about enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is like a muse, but you can synthesize it.  By knowing what enthuses you toward a certain type of project, you can lead yourself to be enthusiastic about that project.  You have to write an essay for school— finding a new angle or tying it to one of your hobbies, like snake wrangling or something, can raise your enthusiasm.  You have to do something monotonous, like raking leaves or shoveling snow— listening to music or making a game out of it can make it seem faster.  Based on your personality, you can pump yourself up.

But enthusiasm isn’t born of the void.  Enthusiasm is to the mind like energy is to physics— it comes from somewhere, and it goes somewhere.  It transfers itself from one project to another, or lends itself from one area into another.  Your enthusiasm for music raises your enthusiasm for chores.  Your enthusiasm for snake wrangling raises your enthusiasm for school essays.  But it isn’t always rising.  Your enthusiasm for your essay dies when you realize that, instead of writing about snake wrangling, you could actually wrangle some snakes.

Enthusiasm comes and enthusiasm goes.  It never dies, but it is always running away.  The only way to keep enthusiasm around, to synthesize it when it isn’t quite there, is to keep momentum. Continue reading “Momentum”

When There Is No Time

I’ve had numerous troubles with procrastination, but lately I’ve experienced situations in which, instead of eating my own time, I find other things eating my time.  Things like school, assigned writing and reading, college searches, and all that truly fun, exciting, invigorating work.  There’s nothing to get you into the mood for fiction writing like the SAT, right?

We all know it’s not true.  However, as Mary Robinette Kowal says, high school is meant to teach you how to fulfill all your requirements while still finding time for your hobbies.  But how to do that when there’s no time?

Prioritize.  Obviously, if you’re spending an hour doing something unnecessary, you could easily rehabilitate that time for another purpose.  Perhaps watching a TV show or checking email will have to wait for a day or two, until it becomes necessary.  (If you’re in desperate need of creative rejuvenation, for instance, watch the TV show.)  I had to take a break from blogging for (gasp!) a whole week while my life was crazy.  Of course, if your unnecessary activity happens to be your hobby, don’t prioritize that much.  The point is to free up time for you to have fun, not to remove all fun from your life. Continue reading “When There Is No Time”