This week, as I am buried in essay drafts and other deadlines, I can’t help but think of the little speech I gave my students about the drafting and revising process.
“You’re not expected to simply revise typos and neaten up sentence structure,” I told them. “I want you to be willing to re-vision your papers and the content of your argument.”
Re-vision, not revise.
Build on possibilities, not problems.
Every September I latch on to the idea of a fresh start, the same desire for a new beginning (“this year will finally be my year”) that has escaped me since childhood. Usually, I’m so focused on the prospect of a calamity-free year that by the beginning of August I am ready for fall.
This year, a summer filled with the usual infection-y mess and an assortment of unusual new medical issues left me burnt out with appointments and tests, sick of spending money on chronic health issues, and physically and emotionally drained by August’s end—just when I should be refreshed and energized for a new academic year.
So that’s how I started the semester, apprehensive and longing for the summer that wasn’t, and supremely doubtful a clean September slate was in my future.
I can’t change (or revise, as it were) the blur of symptoms that was most of my summer, nor can I make the answers that explain the symptoms come any easier, but I can re-vision my situation.
And that’s what I’ve started doing. I am less concerned with immediate answers than I am with accomplishing necessary tasks for each day. I’m enjoying a new schedule and a new routine and even though I’m juggling several different projects, I am happier when in constant motion. I’m prioritizing my many doctor appointments so the most essential ones get my time and energy (and, more importantly, don’t draw out my resentment). I’m open to the idea of a fresh start, but I’m realizing I don’t need one to keep moving forward.
It’s similar to the idea of keeping an open mind when dealing with doctors I wrote about recently, as well as the importance of changing the chronic routine when it comes to wellness and nutrition.
But this September, I’m not just thinking about doctor-patient dynamics or diversifying our whole foods repertoire. I’m talking about something more fundamental: re-visioning the possibility of, well, possibilities.
And with that, my August angst seems like such a long time ago.