After taking a final exam for DAT 5402 (data analytics for business leaders) this afternoon, the semester—and it still feels outmoded to measure the passing of time that way at this stage—is effectively over.
The last four months have been busy—subtly so. Typically when I think of busy-ness, or of running short of time, I think of The Grind—when there's so much to do and you just have to put a shoulder to the work and keep pushing and pushing and pushing until it's done or the time's run out. The last few months were slightly different. There were aspects of The Grind, but on balance the work was easier, it's just that the time somehow seemed to be accounted for so much more completely.
Moving into the house and starting the Tuesday/Thursday evening PMBA program at the same time turned into the biggest test of time. One weekend, we moved into the house. The next weekend I had the kickoff weekend for school. And immediately, I was behind on all fronts. Then on and on in a feedback loop. Losing a weekend of unpacking and building at the house meant I fell behind there. Using Monday and Wednesday evenings to catch up on the house meant falling behind in school. Like drowning, it wasn't necessarily the water itself that was most threatening but the thrashing about to stay above water—the thrashing saps energy and will at the expense of The Goal, versus the in-the-panic counterintuitiveness of simply floating.
Floating is a good solution. Floating is focus. It's focusing on the one thing that really matters—not even keeping your head above water, but just the bits that need to be above water.
So this week starts a break from school until sometime in January. And this week is the last week of work for the year—if you can call it that, once the reality of staff discovering their unused vacation and sick leave sets in. The cycle eases itself a bit. I'd like to lay on the ground, one side of my face in the dirt, and just witness the world from the vantage point of a worm. Don't bother me—it's the season for hibernation. But. The downcycle is the best—sometimes the only—opportunity for reflection. Doing and reflecting are necessarily opposed. Each requires the focus that the other requires. Where do we go from here? And where is here? And how did we get here? It's not really about getting ahead of the future, but getting down into a coiled position, alert and prepared to grapple with it when it arrives.
I don't know if it fits, but that last brooding passage from The Great Gatsby floats to the surface of its own volition:
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us the, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning———
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.