Although these two weeks of summer school that I’m currently going through involve long hours and much homework, I am not writing this post to complain about that. Even though there may be a description of unpleasant things, it is merely a description, not a complaint. I’m not complaining because (1) the teachers have to be here for all these hours too and they don’t complain, (2) education is a privilege and I’m grateful to receive training for my future career, (3) if you compare my minor unpleasantness (long hours of sitting, much reading, forced group work) to the genuine suffering that hundreds of millions of people suffer every day, by contrast the unpleasantness seems like some sort of spa getaway.
So, all that said, I’ve been thinking over the past three days about how it feels to live in such a focused way. I wake up in the morning, work on the odds and ends of homework and go to class. I leave class, eat lunch, do homework and then return to class . In the evening, class ends and I go home, do homework and go to bed again. What would it feel like, I wonder, to have this be your life all day, every day? It’s sort of monastic, right? What if you were a scribe in 6th century Ireland, constrained to sit at your desk and copy Scripture by candlelight 10 hours a day. How would you feel in your heart and mind when you looked out toward the coming years?
What if you had a high-powered job — like CEO of a corporation — and you regularly worked 14-hour days. You days might be more varied but they would be no less taxing and leave no more room for recreational activities. How does that feel? How does that tunnel vision life feel over the long term? What if your long days are a result of committment to a philanthropic cause or a ministry (like Dr. Paul Farmer)?
I’ve always sworn that I’ve wanted time in my life to play sports, and go out at night, and attend plays and go on trips and just do all manner of non-work things. This experience of intense summer school has only confirmed that for me. What do you think about tunnel-working or tunnel-studying? How does it work for you? Have you experienced a really intense period like mine before? Are there circumstances in which you would commit to something so absorbing and time-consuming?