Scheduling and staffing issues at school have put an unusually large extra dose of responsibilities on my plate this year. I knew it was going to be a strain when I volunteered to stick my finger in the dike. What I didn’t fully appreciate: what else was going to have to give in order for me to make it work.
My prime writing times are early in the morning or after my dock is cleared and I have some head-clearing time in the afternoon. In a pinch, I write in my legal pads on the train on the way to work.
Well my hamster wheel of prep-teach-grade starts at the crack of dawn and there are zero head-clearing spaces in the day (of sufficient length) until I get home. And it turns out my kids actually require a father when I get home. I’m already at my late-year stage of sleeping on the train both to and from work and we haven’t even hit Back to School Night yet.
The chafing under these requirements of being a grown-up and a parent has been…significant. I like to think I’ve come a long way in my 15 years of marriage but I would have killed a man and worn his skin as a suit just to have two hours of quiet reflection and writing time to myself. I begin to understand why people rent office space for their personal use.
[Irony: I stopped writing there to intervene in a crying baby incident and wrote two sentences hunt-and-peck style with a baby in my lap]
Luckily I have a good wife and she cleared me just enough time to hide in my room this weekend and do some creative writing for the now-languishing novel. 500 words, go me. But I have no idea at all how I will keep up with Rule of St. Benedict, Teaching Badly, Orlando Furioso, and the lot. Lots happening, just no time to tell the stories.
Are monks who obey the noon bell more free than I am, or less? I can’t tell anymore. Drop everything and pray sounds like paradise these days, even if it comes at the price of morning prayer at 5:00 a.m. It seems like a life of choice instead of a million things flying at you from every direction…except that I chose this life too, and if a noon bell makes one free, maybe a million of them makes one really free.
Adapting to the difficult and sacrificing self-will: Benedictine to the core! So perhaps I shall just have to teach myself to write in a ruckus-filled house in little bits before and after dinner. But you can have my early bed time when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Gotta draw a line somewhere, even when it comes to growth!
P.S. Make sure you read Moby Dick and watch Stranger Things. And Norrel and Strange. Fantastic stuff.