Rest days.

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

In every training plan, no matter what the race distance, at least one day is usually set aside as a rest day. That means no training of any kind– no ‘easy’ spins on the bike, no ‘slow’ jogs: nothing but allowing the body to recuperate from the week’s work. It is at such moments that the body gets stronger, interestingly enough: in what might seem an allowance to weakness, making time for rest actually allows for strength to increase.

So it is mentally, I believe.

Thus, in despite of the ostensible ‘rules’ of NaPoWriMo– to post something every day– I decided last week to take some much-needed rest rather than type inanities for the sake of putting something onto the screen. Such posts are the mental equivalent of “junk miles”: mere spending of energy, rather than effort undertaken for a specific end.

At the same time, I was dealing with the kinds of busy-ness inherent in this time of term: lots of papers to mark, students to meet with, and yes, yet more plagiarists. To be perfectly honest, I was not only exhausted but demoralized by the combination. I’ve posted before about the pitfalls of plagiarism– now imagine that it’s late in the term, and the writers in question are advanced students: ergo, those who by any lights should know better.

Apply head forcibly to brick wall. Repeatedly.

Demoralization isn’t exactly a fashionable attribute to admit to among faculty: after all, we’re here to educate! To inspire! To enjoy the efforts of our students! Etc.! But when some of said students don’t seem to put forth as much of their own effort as is required, well, it’s very hard not to hit a downside of the educational emotion slope.

So I take some comfort in Steinbeck’s words at moments like these: no, I’m not someone who delights in every moment of every day of the education business– I’m a human being, with ups and downs like everyone else. Once I can set the image of an “ideal educator” aside, then I can get down to the real task at hand: being very good at what I do.

Because what I do (reaching audiences and getting them to look at the world and themselves in new ways) matters to me. I hope it matters to them as well.

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