Keene State is currently on Spring Break, so I’m in Massachusetts this week briefly enjoying the luxury of living in one state rather than two. Knowing that students never do schoolwork over break, despite their occasional best intentions, I arranged my syllabi so all three of my writing classes gave me essay drafts before break began. And so I’ll be spending this week in Massachusetts reading papers and continuing to teach my online classes: not exactly a “break” from work, but a welcome chance to catch up with teaching tasks while my perpetually exhausted students catch up with sleep.
These past few days have been a whirlwind of activity, with me going to a poetry reading on Saturday, giving interviews at the Zen Center on Sunday, and getting together with girlfriends for dinner last night: a month’s worth of social interaction packed into one weekend. My typical lament throughout the academic year is that there’s never enough time: as soon as I finish reading one pile of papers, I collect another, and in the rare instances when I catch up with grading from one college, I’m inevitably buried in work from the other. Every year, I look forward to Spring Break not because I typically go anywhere but because it offers a brief opportunity at the heart of the semester to catch up, check in with friends I otherwise don’t have time to see, and take a breather: a chance to slow down, check off long-neglected to-do’s, and gather my wits for the second half of the semester.
It’s fittingly ironic, then, that we Americans set our clocks ahead this weekend, springing forward into Daylight Saving Time as if time were something we could ever “save.” Not only did our clocks lose an hour this weekend, the earth itself is spinning faster after the Japanese earthquake, our days nearly two microseconds shorter as the turning world hunkers into herself in the aftermath of trauma. How many times during a busy semester have I silently prayed for the earth to slow down–for the days to flex and lengthen, stretching longer than my to-do list? But unlike Joshua, I’ve never managed to make the sun stand still and the moon stop: always the world keeps turning, the seconds keep ticking, and time keeps flying, whether I’m ready or not. The world shows no sign of slowing or settling; instead, Time keeps flying faster, hurrying and rushing and whirling like a dog chasing its tail, or a wolf nipping at our heels.
This morning, I enjoyed a brief respite from all this rushing, walking Reggie down sidewalks that are finally clear (here in Massachusetts, at least) of ice and hard-packed snow. The temperature is still brisk–it’s still only almost-spring, with reliably warm weather still weeks away–but for a moment this morning, I was content to wear shoes rather than boots and a winter jacket rather than a long down coat. Soon enough, spring will be here in earnest, and summer will follow surely after that; in the meantime, the dog and I have nowhere to go but around the neighborhood again and back, my to-do list waiting until we make the regular rounds, walking at the speed of an old dog.