So, I don’t know what came over me tonight, but something clicked in my brain… at least it clicked in a way that it never has before. The realization is common sense, and it’s definitely a thought I’ve had in the past, but as many times as I’ve had it before, it didn’t fully sink in until tonight. At first glance, it might not seem like that big of a deal, but at this present moment, it feels like one of the most important things I’ve done for a while.
I cleaned off my desk.
I guess I should clarify… I partially cleaned off my desk. I still have a little way to go, and there’s a little more (or a lot) as to why this was oddly cathartic for me. (The English teacher part of my brain is secretly geeking out about the symbolism and metaphorical value of this post, especially since I’m working on figurative language with my freshman. You’ve been warned. Hopefully it’s not too cliché for you to handle.)
I recently wrote about my struggles with staying up-to-date with my school work, among other things. I had a really rough couple of days right after Thanksgiving break ended with trying to stay focused on my work. I had everything ready to go for the first day back (I made sure of that before break so I didn’t have to think about school at all over break), but I didn’t have anything ready for the rest of the week. Six days off was just enough time for me to zone out completely and totally lose focus on the responsibilities of my job. I had a really hard time getting back into the swing of things last Tuesday.
I was mentally exhausted after the first day back and I told myself I was going to work on my lessons for the upcoming week at home. But once I got home, all my motivation and focus was long gone. I sat there for several hours, watching YouTube, checking Facebook, wanting to work on the short story I’m writing or another blog post, telling myself “I need to get started on my lessons,” but I never did. As a result, I wasn’t prepared for the next day. I ended up showing a video related to the topic that we were covering to buy myself some more time, but the damage was already done. Mentally, I was telling myself that I was a horrible teacher. Nobody else here is doing this. They are all fulfilling their duties as a good teacher. They are thinking of their students and preparing good lessons that will actually teach them something instead of sitting at home and pouting about the work they have piled up.
I’ve had several nights recently like this where I put off my school work until the last minute and I’ve realized I can’t mentally do another night like that. I made myself a rule. I’ve already abided to this rule occasionally this year, but now I’m really going to enforce it upon myself: I can’t leave school until I have everything ready for the next day. If I happen to get more school work done in the evening, great. But I if don’t, I’m not up against the wall trying to figure something out. (As usual, I’ve already bent my rule of having everything done today because I was really hungry and having trouble focusing after school. I had part of my lesson done, so I told myself I’d be able to finish it easily at home).
Like I mentioned above, I started working on a short story that I’m wanting to post here when I’m finished. I had a goal of having a draft done before Thanksgiving break was over, but that didn’t happen. Like my school work, I also have trouble focusing on my writing if I don’t get into a good writing rhythm almost immediately. I tried to write last night and got maybe a paragraph finished before I stopped.
Now this is where the cathartic cleaning of the desk comes in. After I got home and ate dinner tonight, I thought “I really need to clean my desk so I can sit there and work. Not only could I do my school work, but I can write my short story.” I’ve often had this thought in the past, and I’ve cleaned it off in the past, but it quickly gets piled up with stuff to the point that I can’t use it. But I knew since I really needed to get the rest of my lesson planned, and I already bent my rule, I really focused on getting it clean.
I turned on the Solo Piano station on my Pandora but before I got up to clean, I just sat on my bed, closed my eyes, and meditated for a couple of minutes, listening to the first song that came across Pandora, which happened to be “Nearer My God to Thee” played by Lorie Line. I’m not really that religious of a person anymore. I would say I’m more of a spiritual person than religious at the moment. My first thought when this song came on was of the Titanic, as this is supposedly the last song played by the band as the ship was going down, and I began thinking of the scene from the 1997 movie. Anyway, I already had one of Lorie Line’s albums on iTunes, and I quickly went to buy this one. Here’s her version:
I’ve tried meditating in the past, and it’s helped when I’ve been able to really just stay focused on my breathing… but there was just something about it tonight that my mind just clicked into the right spot and I was able to tune everything else out and listen to the calming melody of the piano for the four-minute long track. Once the song was over, I stood up, started cleaning, and had my small epiphany: the reason I can’t work at my desk, even when I’ve cleaned it off in the past, is because it’s my junk pile (cue the symbolism).
My desk is the place where I just set everything down that doesn’t really have another place in my room, and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember… piles of junk mail and other papers, glasses and dishes from when I eat dinner, and wrappers and bags from my countless other snacks and take-out dinners, tons of other knick-knacks… just about everything I have that doesn’t have another place to live ends up on my desk. And not only my desk, but my chair, and the floor around my desk and chair, is included in the dumping ground. I come into my room and I dump my stuff in this corner. Whenever I clean the rest of my room, my desk is the place where I put stuff to “deal with it later.”
I’ve worked in the past on making my room an enjoyable place to be with getting posters and other things to put on the walls… but the same can’t be said for my desk. I constantly want to go to Donkey Coffee in Athens to work because it’s an enjoyable place to be and an enjoyable place to work. I’ve gone to the Donkey after school several times to work on school work, and on the weekends just to write, because I know I won’t be able to focus at home… and now I understand why. I haven’t made my desk an enjoyable place to be. It holds all of the junk I don’t want to deal with. It’s not an inspirational place to be. It’s not a comfortable place to be.
I often complain to myself that I don’t have a place like the Donkey that’s closer. I usually tell myself if I could just go to the Donkey it would be fine… but then I say that I can’t keep driving to Athens and back every night, using up all of the gas in my car. After my brief flash of clarity, a small cleaning session, and writing this post while sitting at my desk, I’ve realized that I can have another place with similar benefits to the Donkey, and I just have to get up out of my bed and take one step over to my desk chair.
I have to continue getting rid of the rest of my “junk,” move all the unnecessary things out of my way, and make my desk an enjoyable, relaxing, meditative, and inspiring place to be.
Once I do that, maybe I can get past my pouting and actually get some shit done.