It's summer and many academics are breathing sighs of relief. Only to feel the panic around unstructured time and many to dos in the very next breath.
Because so many of us live unsustainably throughout the academic year (too little sleep, too little play, too much stress), it can be hard to get started on work in the summer time. "No," our exhausted and pleasure-starved selves shout, "don't make me do more work!"
I am feeling this particularly acutely at the moment because I am traveling and spending time with a dear friend and writing partner in a country I have never visited before. Though she and I have discussed our mutual writing project, my daily yoga and writing practices have fallen away this week.
I can't quite tell how to feel about vacation from daily practice. One the one hand, this seems totally healthy and normal: if I've been good about writing and yoga on a regular basis, I can take weeks at a time off. On the other hand, since yoga and writing are part of my healthy routine, something feels a bit off kilter to go a long stretch without.
AND YET, for all the reasons above, in this first week since filing my grades, I resent feeling the pressure of work in my summer weeks. I'm tired! I want to play!
So I have been thinking about ways of doing work that feel playful. Yesterday I did write and I had a light yoga practice, but I tried to approach them each in a fun way. I sat at a cafe with my computer, set a 1 hour timer, and allowed myself to do messy freewriting as well as the hard work (for me) of working on revisions within the draft. I allowed myself to be speculative and to imagine a totally new conclusion to this chapter--what if I made this comparison instead of that? Sitting in a foreign city, drinking a cappuccino, and dinking around on my laptop, the hour flew by.
Similarly, I had yoga "play" with two friends at a city park health class. The teacher was instructing in a language I couldn't understand, and we did have a beer afterward, but we still showed up, and our backs all felt better for having played in this way.
In childhood, many of us wrote, read, made art, ran and tumbled in the yard for fun. As summer is again upon us, how might we take this playful orientation to the work that must get done?