Monday, May 21, 2012

In Praise of Doing Not Very Much

During the Victorian era, the best known and most influential art critic was John Ruskin. (He also possessed a quite commanding set of whiskers, but that's a post for another time.)  Ruskin was not without his faults, but I find this quote especially useful:  "In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed:  They must be fit for it.  They must not do too much of it.  And they must have a sense of success in it."  Wise words, indeed.

FryDaddy and I had gotten off that track.  Speaking only for myself, I was fit for the work I was doing, so I had that going for me, but I was doing too much of it (certainly in too short a time span) and I wasn't feeling much of a sense of success in it.  Vacations are good places to reset those sorts of clocks. We were fortunate enough to have a place to go where there was very little to do.  I know that many people enjoy doing this&that on vacation and we've had that sort of trip before and enjoyed it greatly.  But there's often a problem with those trips - there's so much to see and do that you tend to be checking things off a list the whole time and to do that, you need to gogogogo.  Therefore, I tend to come home tired from those experiences and need a vacation from my vacation.

We were also helped out by the coastal weather which had plenty of drizzle and overcast conditions that seemed to whisper, "No, not yet.  Just hunker down here - where's that novel you brought?"  I can't really explain how lovely it was to just turn off the phone, sleep in, pad about a lovely home with a second cup of coffee and spend the day reading, playing games, strolling under the Spanish-moss-draped trees wondering  if we'll see an alligator basking in the lagoon and then doing it all over again the next day.

So we're back now and bills and phone messages need to be attended to, writing deadlines are beginning to strain against their chains, and I have two classes to teach that mean three 10 hour days a week for the next five weeks.  And it's all doable.

I like to pick up souvenirs when I travel and this trip I brought home a heavy diner-style coffee mug to remind me of the importance of "zero tasking." (You can see the picture at the top of the post.)  As soon as I finish my coffee, I'll rinse it out and take it to the office, where I think I need it.

Fit for it + Not too much of it + Sense of Success in It = Happy at Work

Now that's math I can support!

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