Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring - Break - Rules -- Writer's Poke #429

When I was younger, I used to think that Spring Break was the time to party. I thought everyone was flying to the Caribbean or Mexico, drinking way too much, and doing way too many things they shouldn’t be doing. I guess I was somewhat jealous, too, because I never had a ticket to Spring Break hedonism.

I stayed at home. I looked at my class schedules, and I thought about how I could utilize the week to prepare for the rest of the semester. Sometimes it felt like I was the only student in the United States that bothered to use Spring Break this way.

The Spring Break that stands out in my mind the most, maybe, is the one that I dedicated to the Toni Morrison. I had a Toni Morrison/Richard Wright class, and I read Tar Baby, Song of Solomon, and Jazz. That was my Spring Break, reading those three books. When I look back on it now, I call it my Spring Break with Toni.

Now that I’m an instructor, I realize that most students don’t go on vacation during Spring Break. Most continue with their lives – working and taking care of their families and personal responsibilities. But when students come back from the Break, there is a noticeable change. Some students don’t come back. Some students come back, but they don’t put forth the same effort as they did early in the semester. Not many, or so it seems, return refreshed and energetic, ready to finish the semester with vigor. Is the Break to blame, or is it just the nature of Winter transforming into Spring?

What are the rules of Spring Break? That is, what are the rules that will allow you to utilize a break to its fullest potential?

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Age of a Lifetime -- Writer's Poke #428

I don’t know if there’s an “ideal age,” but when I dream I’m often times younger – generally between 15 and 25. In fact, I can’t recall ever having a dream where I’ve been older than my actual age.

Last night I had a dream, and I was about 20 years old. As some dreams can, it felt so real, and I felt as though I had my whole life ahead of me. I was planning out what I wanted to do with the next twenty years of my life. When I woke up, I was excited by the prospects of the plan. I woke up having my life all figured out.

And then I realized I had already lived those 20 years. What I’ve done with those twenty years hasn’t been bad, but I will never have the opportunity, so far as I know, to relive them. What’s done is done. Perhaps this is why it’s so fun to dream yourself as being younger. It’s the closest way we’ll ever have to reliving our lives.

That’s what it’s about, really. Reliving life – not just reliving the past. I have little interest in reliving my life; but I’m quite interested in the prospect of reliving an alternative version of my life. What would have happened if I had done this rather than that? Or, what would have happened had I followed my dream plan?

To a certain extent, I have loosely planned out my life, but plans in life don’t exactly work like plans in dreams. Imagine what life would be like if it matched the dream experience. People talk about “living the dream” and they talk about “living the life.” Both expressions mean roughly the same thing, but like dreams, how our lives turn out can be somewhat beyond our control.

Some people practice lucid dreaming in an attempt to be consciously aware of their dreams. It’s a fun technique to practice, but it’s very difficult to master. Many people go through life without much conscious thought from day to day.  Living life forces us to show our age, and there’s no magic button to remove the years.

What do you consider to be the “ideal age”; or, if you believe in an afterlife, what “age” do you imagine yourself being?

“Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.” – Luis Bunuel