Editorial: remembering why

File photo

File photo

It often surprises me how hard it is to get started working on something I love. I have many ongoing projects this year—a large paper, an honors thesis, a violin recital, this newspaper—and they all require me to work on them a little bit at a time for months on end. And though I love doing all these things, I can’t help but dread starting that work every day. So I put it off, and put it off, and soon it’s been a week and I haven’t touched an article or my orchestra music or the many volumes of Shakespeare criticism currently haunting my desk.

Then, one day, on a whim, or at the urging of a responsible friend, I pick up the books, start working and discover once again that this is actually fun. Digging into texts, making connections, sorting through arguments—this is the stuff I love to do. Good thing, too, since I’m planning on grad school. The same thing happens often when I pick up the violin—the passage I’m dreading fixing becomes a source of joy.

That excitement about my work, though, proves difficult to maintain. All it takes is a few days full of Chimes or family commitments and I’ve lost the thread, and finding it again sounds much less pleasant than just taking a nap.

I’m constantly having to remind myself of why I do all the things I do. When I’m struggling to write a Chimes article late at night, it’s hard to convert my profound and convincing philosophy of student journalism into the energy required to pound out another sentence. When I’m running from one rehearsal to another, it’s easier to think about arriving on time and playing the right notes than creating something beautiful with my fellow musicians. If I can let myself remember those true goals, though, sometimes the stress goes away, or it’s at least accompanied by fun and fulfillment.

At this point in the semester, when our schedules become packed with papers, projects and performances, it’s easy to forget why we’re doing these things to begin with. But many of us took on all these tasks because we love them. This is a privilege—not everyone gets to spend four years of their lives learning what they love. Let’s not forget that.

Of course, not every stressful detail of our lives is an expression of some deep calling or major life goal. Some things we have to get done don’t have much to do at all with the things we love. But I think that when we can remind ourselves of the passions, loves and joys that are behind some of the things on our to-do lists, then we can remember to enjoy them.

After all, our lives aren’t made up of isolated incidents but of continuous stories that are always being written. If you see a meeting or a homework assignment as a single roadblock, an insurmountable task worthy of your best dread and procrastination, then it will be hard to find joy in it. But if you see it as a step into a world you love, even if it’s a hard step, then perhaps you can derive from that love the energy and excitement you need.

I write this as a reminder to myself, but I’m sure I’m not alone. May we love doing the things we love.