I always begin my day with a time of prayer. It is mostly discursive kind of a prayer where I think about what is going on in my life and I talk to God about that. It works well for me, and it has done for a long time. But this morning I finished my prayer in a less happy space than I had begun it because I began to think about all the things I needed to address this week.
Currently I am going through that happy transition that academics go through twice a year, when the marking is mostly behind us and we can shift our focus back to research. The strange thing about life as an academic is that nothing is ever finished. You never leave work with an empty in-tray. There is always more that can be done and more that should be done. There are always things pending; always more things that could be done.
The completion of marking is perhaps the one rare exception to that. It marks an actual end. It is a time to be celebrated. But as I look forward to my week ahead, my head is filled with the things I have temporarily put off until I got the marking out of the way. By tomorrow the course admin will be behind me, but the wave of work which I have been gently ignoring for a couple of weeks can no longer be put off.
The challenge for me is to fight the temptation to paralysis. To recognize that there are small bites which can be taken which will slowly get the momentum going. To trust that if I attend to what I can each day, that in time things will get done and progress will be made.
The really strange thing about academia is that most of the pressure is self-imposed. How can I become paralysed by pressure that is essentially self-imposed?? It is something of a mystery to me.
As I take a step back I am able to see once more that I am deeply grateful for the freedom that academia grants me. There are pressures, but for the most part I am able to choose the way in which I spend my time. I am able to focus on different things at different times, and do those things which are most meaningful to me. So for today I pray for the grace of perspective coupled with the desire to take a small step towards my desired goals.