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Stop and think

12 March 2008

I’m not even sure how to put this post together.

Came home around 11:00 p.m., after another almost 12-hour workday. (I’m blessed to have a job that offers me flexible hours, free tuition, 2 months off in the summer, unique experiences, fun people, etc. BUT when things are busy, things are BUSY.) I still have some homework to do, still owe a handful of people phone calls, but am too drained. I hop on the internet to check e-mail one last time. There’s one from an old Missouri Scholars Academy friend, sent to next year’s staff, sharing a Chronicle article on the busy lives of modern students. It garnered a few interesting responses today, so I decided to read it.

Here’s the title: Dwelling in Possibilities: Our students’ spectacular hunger for life makes them radically vulnerable
by Mark Edmunson

“Dwell in Possibility”…sound familiar?
(I live for this sort of coincidence and connection, so I’m in. Do your worst, article. I’m listening.)

(PS–I didn’t notice the author’s name until I got to the end, and realized that Mark Edmunson wrote one of the best books I read last year, Why Read?)

The article’s not a short blip. It forces you to stop and think. But that’s the point.

He profiles a typical student of this generation (I’ll include myself in it, though I’m 2 years out…): Always plugged in, always seeking multiple options. He calls us “enemies of closure”, something that—for better or worse—describes me.

“My students are possibility junkies,” he says. Ever-present technology in our lives keeps us from ever being fully present. We’re 8 places at once on the internet. We’re creating our own individual soundtrack with our iPods. We’re texting someone who’s in the next room. Sending a facebook message to someone 500 miles away.

He compares us to Lord Byron (a figure I remember from my senior honors research, described by many as manic-depressive), saying Byron would love this generation’s “fast travel, fast communication, fast relationships”.
(interesting sidenote: “Byron claimed to compose best on horseback”… and I’ve known for years I sometimes get my best ideas when driving. Comparing myself with mad genius? Maybe a little.)

Funny, this entry has started to feel like an assignment—in the best possible way. This is the kind of thought I miss. The kind I often don’t have time for.

Hm. I don’t know if I made any of the points I meant to. It’s after midnight. I’m too tired to edit.

(But I feel like something is telling me to slow down.)

“Society has a great span of resources to assist someone in doing what he’s not cut out for yet still must be done.[…]But life is more than spontaneity and whim. To live well, we must sometimes stop and think, and then try to remake the work in progress that we currently are.”

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