Monday, June 30, 2008

Returning to "work"

I've returned from vacation, refreshed, recharged, but not quite raring to go. I almost didn't go on this vacation because I felt guilty for leaving work behind. How would the students function? Who would do x? Who would do y? What if something happens? Vacation got me away from those questions, from the day-to-day grind. Yes, I checked in on email, but only to see if anything had truly blown up. Nothing had. I gained some perspective on vacation that I hope to keep. I had lots of good conversations--about relationships, raising children, public schooling, politics, and friendship--the kinds of conversations I sometimes never make time for. But these are often the things that really matter.

It's too easy to get caught up in the swirl of activity that passes for work. Everyone needs to be doing something. Running around getting things done. But that's not what I want to be doing. I want to, as Barbara Ganley recently said, be noodling, thinking and doing things that will make a difference (via Leslie). I have always felt this way and have mostly approached my work this way, but it's often easy to slide into responding to email, answering the phone, and responding to whatever walks in the door instead of being more deliberate about what to do and when to do it. That's difficult to do sometimes when the emails you receive have a tone of desperation in them or are demanding and insistent. It's hard to step back from those and think, "Should I do this thing I'm being asked to do? How should I respond? How should I approach this problem?" I, and many others, don't stop to think about these things, but I think we need to. We should not just do it. We should be deliberate about what we do.